In the ad, which was released on Wednesday, the former Arizona senator urged GOP voters to support President Donald Trump’s general election opponent, revealing that he has never before supported a Democrat for commander-in-chief.
“I’ve been a conservative Republican my entire life,” Flake said in the ad, noting that the first time he voted was for former President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
“I’ve never before voted for a Democrat for president. But this year, principle and conscience require me to do just that. I’m voting for Joe Biden,” he said. “My fellow Republicans, it’s not easy going against the head of our party. Believe me, I know.”
Flake, who served in the Senate from 2013 until his retirement in 2019, said that Biden would “restore decency and civility” to the Oval Office and told voters to ask themselves if their children and grandchildren would be proud of their vote as images of his family appeared on the screen.
“And please, don’t let anyone tell you that by casting your vote for Joe Biden you’re somehow not being conservative. This year, the most conservative thing you can do is to put the country over party.”
When you fill out your ballot, ask yourself: Who will best restore decency and civility to the White House. Who can I be proud to tell my children and grandchildren I voted for. pic.twitter.com/dwZ1YH25QL
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) October 28, 2020
Several prominent former GOP lawmakers have endorsed Biden. Former Senators John Warner of Virginia, Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire and former Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania have all backed the Democratic nominee over Trump.
Cindy McCain, the wife of the late GOP Sen. John McCain, has also endorsed Biden and starred in one of his ads.
Biden has embraced and touted the endorsements, and he is reportedly looking to stack his Cabinet with Republicans. Along with Flake, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman, are reportedly some of the conservatives being considered for various administration posts.
Progressives and even some centrists reacted to this speculation with criticism. Notably, Cenk Uygur, founder of The Young Turks, noted that even Republicans who claim to oppose Trump, like Flake, supported most of his agenda while in office.
In 2018, Flake voted to confirm the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, per The New York Times.
It remains to be seen whether Biden’s apparent attempts to appeal to right-leaning Americans will benefit him electorally, but polling suggests that they won’t. According to research from the non-partisan Pew Research Center, over the course of Trump’s presidency, an average of 87 percent of Republican voters have approved of his performance in the White House.