Jamaica Gleaner / WASHINGTON (AP):
Republican Senator Jeff Flake said yesterday he would not seek re-election next year, delivering a forceful condemnation of the “flagrant disregard of truth and decency” and bemoaning political complicity in a Senate speech clearly directed at President Donald Trump.
Speaking to a rapt audience of other senators, the first-term Arizona lawmaker spelled out his frustration and disappointment in a floor speech before relaying the news that he would not be on the ballot in 2018.
“There are times we must risk our careers,” Flake said. “Now is such a time.”
Flake, who has criticised the path that the Republican Party has taken under Trump, said the impulse “to threaten and scapegoat” could turn America and the GOP into a “fearful, backward-looking people” and a “fearful, backward-looking party.” Flake didn’t mention Trump by name, but clearly was directing his remarks at the president and his administration.
Flake, a former House member, is a conservative who favours limited government and free markets but one known to work on bipartisan legislation. Most notably, he has worked on immigration legislation aimed at finding a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
“A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values,” he said. He received applause at the conclusion of his remarks.
His extraordinary speech came shortly after Trump had joined Senate Republicans at their weekly policy luncheon, and came a few hours after the president had engaged in a war of words with another retiring Republican senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee.