White House officials met with three candidates running against incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ,) indicating Trump may endorse a challenger to a sitting Member of Congress.
“Since taking office, Trump has spoken with Arizona state Treasurer Jeff DeWit, a top official on his 2016 campaign, on at least two occasions, according to two sources familiar with the talks,” POLITICO reports. “More recently, since June, White House officials have also had discussions with former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has announced her bid, and former Arizona GOP Chairman Robert Graham, who like DeWit is exploring a campaign.”
Flake was a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” which in 2013 tried to broker an immigration reform agreement.
“The bad blood between Trump and Flake dates back to the 2016 presidential race, when Flake was frequently critical of the president. In the waning days of the campaign, Trump became so angry with the Arizona senator that he proposed bankrolling a 2018 primary campaign against him,” POLITICO reports. “Backstage before a rally in the state, the president vented that he wanted to find a challenger to run against Flake and that he’d spend $10 million out of his own pocket to defeat him.”