AZ Senate: Copper State voters need Jeff Flake
Republicans are hoping to turn the tide in this election and take control of the United States Senate. While they only need a net gain of four seats, some candidates they’ve been plagued by missteps and a strangely unfriendly climate along the way.
Given the state of the economy, Republicans should be cruising to control of the Senate. But even in states that are traditionally Republican, they’re finding a tough go of things. Take Arizona, for example, where Rep. Jeff Flake, one of the most fiscally conservative members of Congress, is locked in a very tight race against Richard Carmona, who served as Surgeon General during President George W. Bush’s first term.
Flake represented Tea Party ideals before they became mainstream in the Republican Party. When the GOP controlled the House, Flake frequently criticized his own party for its runaway spending, becoming a thorn in the side of leadership as he sought to defund wasteful earmarks and pork-barrel spending. Flake’s principled positions got under the skin of House GOP leadership so much that he was kicked off the House Judiciary Committee.
For some reason, however, Wil Cardon decided that he’d run against Flake. Cardon, a businessman and former Flake supporter, claimed Tea Party support, spending some $8 million of his own money. Cardon slammed Flake as being some sort of Washington insider who was at the beck-and-call of special interest groups.
As absurd as that suggestion was, Cardon attacks sent Flake’s campaign reeling, forcing them to spend money to survive the primary. Shortly before Republican voters headed to the polls, Cardon finally pulled his attack ads against Flake, but the damage had been done.
Being forced to use substantial resources in the primary obviously hurt Flake as he entered the general election against Carmona. With 22 days until votes are counted, Flake now finds himself in trailing Carmona in the most recent polls out of Arizona, though within the margin of error.
Some, like my friend Doug Mataconis, have suggested that Republicans’ anti-immigration rhetoric and legislation passed in Arizona may have something to do with Flake’s struggles in a state where nearly 30% of the population is of Hispanic heritage. However, Flake has been one of the few Republicans in Congress to advocate for immigration reform, an issue that was played up by Cardon in the primary.
Carmona has been largely slamming Flake for being a “career politician,” echoing charges made in the primary. He’s also slammed Flake for allegedly cutting benefits for veterans, which is a misleading claim.
While this race is likely come down to the wire, Carmona hasn’t said or done much to separate himself from the views or President Obama. During a recent debate, Carmona said that he opposed ObamaCare, but Flake noted that he’s already on record supporting it. And oddly, even though Carmona says he would’ve against ObamaCare, he wouldn’t vote to repeal it. The bottomline is that Carmona, despite his claims of being “bipartisan,” is another vote for President Obama’s second-term agenda, which will no doubt include more damaging economic policies.
Flake may be the most fiscally conservative candidate running this year. He’s been one of the most consistent Republicans in Congress and, as already noted, isn’t afraid to take on his party’s leadership when they have gone astray from the limited government beliefs on which they campaign.
Having Flake in the Senate — along side Jim DeMint, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey and others — is a very appealing prospect. This would be the “Tea Party Dream Team,” a group of reform-minded Republicans who understood the fiscal threats to our country long before the rest of their party. These guys aren’t interested in power; they’re interested in restoring the vision of liberty and prosperity that were at the heart of the American experiment.