EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Flake’s Primary Challenger To Hire Top Trump Operatives
Dr. Kelli Ward, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. John McCain in the 2016 primaries, is now taking on Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 Arizona Senate primary.
“I, as well as others, are frustrated with Senator Flake’s weak style,” Ward told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview Thursday. “He hasn’t accomplished a thing in D.C., and his values do not align with the people of Arizona.”
Ward is bringing on two political operatives with ties to the president, Eric Beach and Brent Lowder. The two men will serve as general consultants for the campaign, TheDCNF has learned.
Beach is the founder and co-chair of Great America PAC, and Lowder is it’s executive director. The Great America PAC raised and spent close to $30 million in support of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
News of the hires comes one day after Robert Mercer, one of Trump’s top political donors in 2016, committed $300,000 to a super PAC supporting Ward.
Ward, an osteopathic physician, served in the Arizona State Senate from 2012 until Dec. 2015, when she resigned in order to take on McCain. During her time in the Senate, she had 19 bills signed by the governor. “I am most proud that I remained accessible, conservative and authentic as a state legislator,” Ward said about her time in the Arizona legislature.
Flake has been a vocal critic of President Trump. In his new book “Conscience of a Conservative,” Flake criticized problems he sees in conservatism.
“If conservatives do not believe in the calm, sober use and restraint of government power, then we believe in nothing,” Flake wrote. “Especially when it is exercised in haste, arbitrarily, and without deliberation or care.” (RELATED: Jeff Flake Is Now A Sage To The Left)
Ward accused Flake of not only working against the president, but also of ramping up criticism in order to sell copies of his book.
“He puts America last, and I want to put America first,” Ward told TheDCNF in a nod to Trump’s campaign message of “America first.”
Flake, who spent 12 years in the House of Representatives before winning election to the Senate in 2012, opposed Trump’s travel ban, referring to it as a “Muslim ban.” He called it “morally repugnant” and “un-American.”
Ward distinguished herself from Flake on a number issues, including immigration, health care and the economy.
“Our views on immigration and securing the border are totally different,” Ward said. “He wants to give amnesty to gang members, I want to prioritize American workers.”
Ward has been an unabashed support of the president and his agenda.
#GOP voters want action & all we’ve gotten is finger pointing at @realDonaldTrump – the era of excuses is over! https://t.co/wWLGfT9DMQ
— Dr. Kelli Ward (@kelliwardaz) August 10, 2017
“I think he’s done great despite all of the obstacles he’s faced from the Resistance, Democrats, the GOP establishment and the mainstream media opposing him at every turn, Ward said. “He’s still accomplished so much.”
Flake, seen as an establishment figure with a libertarian streak, won his Senate seat in 2012 by about 4 percentage points. Ward lost to McCain 39.2 percent to 51.7 percent. For Ward to unseat Flake, she must consolidate the Trump base with conservatives irked by Flake’s indecisiveness on Obamacare repeal efforts and what some consider a soft stance on immigration.
When asked if she has been in touch with the White House, Ward responded that those conversations are private and are going to remain so. “But what’s not private is the attacks that Senator Flake has levied against the president,” she said.
TheDCNF reached out to Flake’s campaign for comment but did not hear back by press time.
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