Flake says he's rooting for Democrat running against Steve King

Flake says he's rooting for Democrat running against Steve King
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (R-Ariz.) said he is supporting Democrat J.D. Scholten in his bid to unseat three-term Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingMan arrested for allegedly throwing glass of water at Steve King House Dem renews call for censuring Steve King Louisiana rep calls Steve King a 'white supremacist' after Katrina comment MORE (R-Iowa) over King's ties with white nationalist politicians and groups. 

“We have a candidate on our side of the aisle who isn’t exactly making things easy for Republicans moving forward. It’s not the best face of the party,” Flake said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” 

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“Some of the statements he’s made over the years with regard to migrants coming across the southern border and more recent comments in this regard have just not been good for the country, certainly not good for the party,” he added, confirming he was talking about King.

The announcement comes as King faces intense scrutiny over his endorsement of a white nationalist candidate in Canada and comments that appeared to support the far-right Austria Freedom Party, which has historical ties to the Nazi party.

Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems aim to end anti-Semitism controversy with vote today Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid New push to open banks to marijuana industry MORE (R-Ohio), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, blasted King’s comments and actions this week, tweeting, “Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

A number of companies, including tech giant Intel Corp. and dairy company Land O'Lakes, have announced in recent days that they will no longer contribute to King's campaign.

The controversy appears to be having an impact on King's once safe reelection campaign.

A poll released Tuesday showed King ahead of his Democratic opponent by just 1 point. The Cook Political Report also shifted the race from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE won the district by 27 points in 2016. 

Scholten also enjoyed a fundraising spike this week after anger with King boiled over.

Flake made headlines in December when he donated to the campaign of Democrat Doug Jones in his special election race against Republican Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreRoy Moore says he's 'seriously considering' 2020 Senate bid Doug Jones: Trump unintentionally giving 'green light' to hate crimes GOP candidate welcomes Roy Moore to enter Alabama Senate primary MORE in Alabama, saying, “A Roy Moore victory is no victory for the GOP and the nation.” Jones went on to win the election.

Moore was accused of sexual misconduct by several women who said they were in their teens at the time of the alleged incidents and he was in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations.

Flake has also frequently criticized President Trump’s conduct.

“Some people ... expect me to become a liberal. I'm not, I'm a conservative,” Flake said on CNN. “People shouldn't expect me to vote in lockstep against the president simply out of spite.”