Jeff Flake Supporting Democrat Over Republican Party Colleague Steve King

Sen. Jeff Flake smiles for the camera.
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Jeff Flake may not have plans to run for a second term in the U.S. Senate, but that doesn’t mean that the Arizona lawmaker is abandoning his party. Yet, a move that he announced he’ll be making while speaking with CNN on Friday, November 2, may lead many to believe that he is indeed turning his back on the GOP.

On its face, Flake’s decision to support the opponent of fellow Republican, Steve King, in Iowa’s congressional race would seem like an act of betrayal. But given Rep. King’s record of support for white supremacist figures and hate groups at home and abroad, the senator sees a vote to oust the eight-term congressman as an opportunity to trim the GOP of its more fringe-leaning influences. Thus, Sen. Flake says that on November 6, he’ll be pulling for Democrat J.D. Scholten of Sioux City.

“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 told Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer. “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.”

Flake’s stance on King is one of several where he’s gone against the grain to take in contrast to the consensus among the party line. Prior to speaking on the Iowa race, the senator confessed on air that he takes exception to the tone President Trump has been using to gauge the issue of the United States-bound caravan of Central American migrants. Sen. Flake’s comments echoed those which he included in the caption of a tweet he put out to condemn the president’s Willie Horton-style attack ad on his opponents he claims to be weak on border security.

“This is a sickening ad. Republicans everywhere should denounce it,” he wrote.

Sen. Flake has also been critical of the president’s proposed handling of the border issue in the courts and on the ground. Midway through the week, the former 6th district congressman told his followers that Trump “can’t” and “shouldn’t” abolish citizenship by birthright. Flake followed that tweet up with a post in which he stated his ideal outlook on the immigration debate, saying he’d “prefer Ronald Reagan’s ‘city on a hill’ view, where immigrants are a blessing, not a burden,” according to the Arizona Republic.