McConnell-linked group: Ward will not be Arizona Senate nominee

McConnell-linked group: Ward will not be Arizona Senate nominee
© Camille Fine

A Republican super PAC with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday took a shot at former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward (R), arguing that she will not be the Republican nominee in the wake of Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Sasse: RNC help for Roy Moore 'doesn't make any sense' Sasse calls RNC decision to resume support for Moore 'bad' and 'sad' MORE's (R-Ariz.) decision to not run for reelection.

Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) has been critical of Ward, who had launched a primary challenge to the right of Flake and has the backing of pro-Trump outside group Great America Alliance. Flake sent shockwaves throughout the political world when he announced on Tuesday that he wouldn't run for a second term in 2018.

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"Sen. Jeff Flake will be remembered for a distinguished and impactful career in Congress, as well as his independent streak and genial manner,” Senate Leadership Fund president Steven Law said in a statement.

"The one political upshot of Sen. Flake’s decision today is that Steve Bannon’s hand-picked candidate, conspiracy-theorist Kelli Ward, will not be the Republican nominee for this Senate seat in 2018."

Flake's departure will likely open up the Republican field and now leaves a spot open for a candidate as an alternative to Ward.

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who had declared "war" against the GOP establishment, recently endorsed and campaigned with Ward in Arizona.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the committee tasked with maintaining the party's majority, also sent out a statement about Flake's retirement, but didn't mention Ward and only argued that the seat will remain red next year.

“While we are sad to see Senator Flake retire, we know that Arizona will stay in Republican hands after the upcoming election," NRSC chairman Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDems look to use Moore against GOP McConnell: 'No change of heart' on Roy Moore US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-Colo.) said in a statement.