Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) picked up a key endorsement Monday, earning the praise of popular Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake (R).

"Mitt Romney has the experience and vision to get our country on the right path again. Whether it was his time as governor or as a successful businessman, Mitt Romney has shown that he has the economic knowledge to create the environment for businesses to start hiring again," said Flake, in an email release put out by the Romney campaign.


Flake, a six-term congressman best known for his efforts to reduce government spending, is running for an open Senate seat in Arizona, but faces a GOP primary first. The lawmaker has spent years pushing to eliminate earmarks and in recent years has seen his views become the ruling view of his party.

Romney's campaign has found momentum in the Four Corners states, where a high Mormon population and fond memories from the Salt Lake City Olympics have endeared him to voters. Flake, like Romney, is a Mormon; both attended Brigham Young University.

His endorsement carries greater weight this election season after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced last week that the state would be moving its primary to Feb. 28, a week before Super Tuesday. The move, coupled with a Republican presidential debate scheduled in the state, should give Arizona a greater influence on the GOP selection.

Democrats in the state took the occasion to criticize both Flake and Romney. 

“The only thing Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney both firmly believe in is saying anything to get elected,” said Arizona Democratic Party executive director Luis Heredia.

This article was updated September 20 at 10:45 a.m.