Congressman Jeff Flake made it official today with an announcement that he will be running for the Senate seat of retiring pro-life Sen. Jon Kyl, who has risen to the second spot in the leadership of the Senate Republicans.
Kyl, who has served for three terms in the Senate and built a strong pro-life voting record, announced on Thursday he’s not going to run for re-election in the 2012 election cycle. Flake, a six term congressman who represents a district to the southeast of the Phoenix-Tempe metropolitan area, is seeking the GOP nod to replace him.
“As soon as possible, as the congressional schedule allows, Sheryl and I will get the kids…and do a statewide campaign,” Flake said.
Flake has strong support from fiscal conservatives — including the Club for Growth — but also enjoys the backing of pro-life groups after compiling a 99% pro-life voting record over the course of more than 50 votes with the National Right to Life Committee.
Flake voted against the Obamacare bill that contains loopholes allowing abortion funding and rationing concerns. He’s voted to support the Mexico City Policy, for the amendment to remove abortion funding for Obamacare, de-funding Planned Parenthood, against funding abortions in the District of Columbia, and against using taxpayer funds to pay for embryonic stem cell research. He also supported the ban on partial-birth abortions, voted against Obama’s efforts to promote abortion globally and supports bills for parental notification and conscience rights for pro-life medical workers.
“Jeff Flake is a proven, tireless champion for economic freedom, and Club for Growth PAC will do everything it can in the Republican primary and the general election to help him win this race,” said Club President Chris Chocola.
Conservative writer Ed Morrissey of Hot Air says Flake is a serious candidate who should garner wide support in Arizona.
“Flake is a non-Establishment conservative, a man who has spent more time fighting Republican spending than most of the Democrats in the House. If the GOP needed a headliner for Tea Party conservatives in the 2012 Senate cycle in the same role that Marco Rubio filled in 2010, Flake would be perfect,” he said. “Young at 50 years of age next year, photogenic, and with a warehouse full of credibility on fiscal responsibility and reform, Flake could easily be the secondary face of the Republican Party in 2012 behind whoever ends up at the top of the presidential ticket.”
Former GOP Rep. John Shadegg, who is also pro-life, was considered another possible contender but he said on Friday he will not run for the Senate seat. That decision and early support for Flake likely puts him in the driver’s seat for the nomination. Other potential Republican candidates include pro-life Rep. Trent Franks and state Senate President Russell Pearce. On the Democratic side, pro-abortion Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been considering a run for the Senate before she was a victim of a much-publicized shooting last month.
“Democrats may have a difficult time finding a competitive candidate to face Flake, assuming Flake wins the primary. Janet Napolitano’s name has been mentioned, but given her performance as Homeland Security chief and her ties to the Obama administration, that sounds like a desperation move,” Morrissey writes. “Gabrielle Giffords’ name has also been mentioned, and it would be lovely if she has recovered enough by then to even contend for the seat, but right now people are properly focused on her physical recovery and ability to once again represent her district.”