Ex-Arizona GOP chair inches closer to bid for Flake’s seat
— Brooke Baldwin (@BrookeBCNN) October 25, 2017
Former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham said in multiple interviews that he is strongly considering launching a bid for outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) seat.
“It definitely raises the bar for me in the sense that I am considering it,” Graham told The Hill on Tuesday after Flake announced he would not seek reelection in 2018 and issued a stinging rebuke to President Trump on the Senate floor.
“All options are back on the table, but now it’s more than a casual discussion,” he continued.
Graham was among various potential primary challengers who met with White House officials in the summer amid the president’s public feud with Flake.
White House officials also met with former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward and with Jeff DeWitt, Arizona’s state treasurer and the former chief operating officer for Trump’s presidential campaign.
Ward is seen to be favored by Trump, who praised her in a tweet in August.
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
However, Graham said Ward would not be an ideal candidate for the seat, despite her anti-establishment favorability.
“Now this has become intensely real for everyone to really look at the seat and say, if she was the only one, would we hang on to the seat? Every consideration would say [no] based on her lack of campaigning, her lack of professionalism around her campaign,” he told The Hill.
News of the potential bid comes as Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) ruled out a campaign for the seat, opting instead to run for reelection in the House.
“Everybody has to make tough decisions in their lifetime, and Congressman Gosar respects Senator Jeff Flake’s decision to do what he thought was best for his family and for the state of Arizona,” Gosar’s spokeswoman, Faith Vander Voort, said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“Although the state needs a strong conservative at the helm, Congressman Gosar will seek reelection for his seat in the House of Representatives in 2018.”