Exclusive: Flake challenger raises nearly $700k in third quarter of 2017

Exclusive: Flake challenger raises nearly $700k in third quarter of 2017

Former state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) raised $690,000 in the third quarter of 2017, nearly doubling the amount she had raised in the first six months of the year for a primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Republicans jockey for position on immigration McCain, Flake warn against 'politically-motivated penalties' for Canadian defense firm MORE (R) in Arizona.

Ward has raised $1.047 million so far in 2017. Her cash reserves bounced from $83,000 at the end of the second quarter to over $250,000 presently. 

“Dr. Ward’s campaign to retire Sen. Jeff Flake is gaining incredible momentum,” said Brent Lowder, chief strategist for the campaign.

“Her broad fundraising base will continue to expand in the months ahead, while Sen. Flake’s donor base is limited and will eventually max out. Large campaigns in recent election cycles have shown that the candidate who can build a broad fundraising base holds the strongest position over time," he continued. "We are exactly where we want to be at this early stage of the campaign. Sen. Flake and his supporters should be very worried about this trend.”

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The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Flake raised $1.1 million in the third quarter and has $3.4 million in cash-on-hand.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (R-Fla.) was in Arizona this week hosting a fundraiser for Flake, who has also benefited from ads from the Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.).

Ward, meanwhile, will get fundraising help from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham next week at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort. 

Ingraham and other key figures in right-wing media, like Fox News Channel anchor Sean Hannity, are backing Ward over Flake in a race that has cut sharply along establishment and grass-roots lines.

While McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are committed to reelecting Flake, the first-term senator has become a top target among Trump’s allies on the right.

Flake has been unsparing in his criticism of Trump, writing in his book “Conscience of a Conservative” this year that it’s time for Republicans to reclaim conservatism from Trump.

Conservative donor Robert Mercer, a Trump supporter whose family is close with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, has already given $300,000 to an outside group supporting Ward’s election.

And Ward’s campaign said it saw a surge in cash after key figures from a major pro-Trump outside group called Great America Alliance peeled off to join her campaign.

Trump has not endorsed anyone in the race but attacked Flake at a rally in Arizona and has tweeted that he is happy Ward is running.