SPOTLIGHT

There May Be a New Most-Vulnerable Republican Senator

Flake could now have a harder time winning reelection than Heller, whose state was carried by Clinton.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., heads to the chamber for a vote, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 20, 2017. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is spurring Republican senators to resolve internal disputes that have pushed their marquee health care bill to the brink of oblivion, a situation made more difficult for the GOP because of Sen. John McCain's jarring diagnosis of brain cancer.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Kyle Trygstad
Sept. 14, 2017, 10:17 a.m.

A recent poll commissioned by the Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC found stunningly low support for Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, providing further evidence that he may now be the most endangered Republican on the map.

Flake’s lone competition for the dubious honor is Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who is from a more Democratic-leaning state and, like Flake, boasts a primary opponent attempting to align more closely with President Trump. But, taking the poll at face value, the floor appears to be dropping out on Flake’s base to an alarming degree—just 34 percent of Republican primary voters polled approved of the job he’s doing, and even fewer, 25 percent, viewed him favorably.

Trump’s public criticism, including at a rally last month in Phoenix, and interest in unseating Flake, which includes a Twitter shout-out for Republican Kelli Ward—who led Flake in the poll by an astounding 58-31 percent margin—and huddling with other potential primary challengers at the rally, has clearly blown up Flake’s support within the party.

At this point, even if the incumbent survives a primary challenge, consolidating the base for a likely campaign against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema—whom the poll found leading Flake 47-40 percent—will be complicated.

Kyle Trygstad

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