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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 FlakeCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  Cindy McCain: Arizona election audit is 'ludicrous' MORE (R-Ariz.) said he is supporting Democrat J.D. Scholten in his bid to unseat three-term Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingDemocrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates House rejects GOP resolution to censure Waters Rep. Gosar denounces 'white racism' after controversial appearance 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 Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Ohio sets special election to replace retiring Rep. Steve Stivers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict 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 TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' 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 MooreThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be 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.”