State of the Senate

Original article by Gabe Acosta

As we move closer to 2018, the midterm elections have been heating up. As one of the few states with an “swing” US Senate seat election, special attention has been given to the  Arizona election. What follows is a breakdown of the race so that you can have an idea of what the field will look like.

 

Republican

Jeff Flake; Incumbent Senator.  Jeff Flake will be running for a second term next november, and as such will have the greatest impact on the race. Flake’s position as the presumptive republican primary winner has been put in jeopardy by the release of Flake’s book, “Conscience of a Conservative”, which takes shots at President Trump and the Republican party politics in general. This criticism may have hurt his position with his constituents.

Flake’s net approval rating is 6 points underwater, according to the new Morning Consult Senate Approval Rankings, with 36 percent of Arizonans approving of his job performance and 42 percent disapproving. – https://morningconsult.com

However, in a general election Flake could benefit from Arizona’s voter registration numbers, which put Democrats at a statewide disadvantage. Of the state’s 3.6 million registered voters, 1.25 million are Republicans; 1.23 million are Independents; and 1.1 million are Democrats. In addition, Flake starts with a the advantages of an incumbent.

Flake also has turned on his fundraising machine and is assembling a campaign team. He says he will report raising more than $1.5 million in April, May and June, with $3 million on hand as of June 30. – Dan Nowicki, http://www.azcentral.com

While Flake’s position does make him especially vulnerable in the primaries, he is by no means in a safe seat in the general election.

Kelli Ward; former AZ State Senator, former candidate U.S. Senate. While some potential challengers have been publicly mulling a run against Flake, Kelli Ward has been the only one to actively work towards it. Ward ran against Sen. McCain in 2016, and is looking for a rematch against Flake, whom she considers the “Republican Establishment”. Recently, her campaign has gotten a boost from former Trump donors:

Thursday’s announcement that Great America PAC founder Eric Beach was joining Ward’s primary campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Jeff Flake comes a day after another Trump supporter, Robert Mercer, donated $300,000 to Ward’s super-PAC. – http://knau.org

While Trump himself has not gotten involved with the Ward campaign directly, he has made no secret of his gripe with Sen. Flake. He has spoken out against the Senator and has pledged to donate ten million dollars of his own money to defeat Flake. While Trump is considering other choices, his decision to help Ward would be huge.

Democrat

Kyrsten Sinema; U.S. House Representative, CD 9. While not a declared candidate, Rep. Sinema has been telegraphing recently that she is moving towards running for U.S. Senate. She is a 3rd term U.S. House Representative who, like Flake,  has tried  to establish herself as something of an independent. She aligns herself with the moderate “Blue Dog Democrat” group, and has voted in congress with trump 46% of the time, a higher percentage than other Democrats.

In some ways, Sinema and Flake are battling images as traitors to purists in their party that is at odds with their voting record under the Trump administration. Both declined to support their party’s presidential nominee last year, and both have provided grist for critics of their parties. Sinema, for example, has supported Trump’s position 46 percent of the time in key votes this year, according to FiveThirtyEight. Her tough-on-crime positions have at times put her at odds with Democrats who characterize some GOP efforts as demonizing illegal immigrants. – http://www.azcentral.com

If Sinema were to jump into the race, she would be seen as the favorite to win the Democratic primary, and would present a credible challenge to Flake. In addition, she is also considered a skilled fundraiser, with all that entails. She would start with good name recognition and three million dollars on hand, as much as Flake has.

Deedra Abboud; attorney and community activist. Deedra Abboud is right now the only officially declared candidate on the Democratic side. She is someone who on her Facebook page has spoken passionately for environmental issues, LGBTQ issues, and a higher minimum wage. She has received a lot of media attention for practicing Islam. She has received a lot of harassment since her announcement because of her religion. That in itself has made her an interesting candidate in the Trump era and her announcement has been seen as a pushback to the Islamophobic rhetoric that has become increasingly common.

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