Flake Gets 2018 Primary Challenge

Kelli Ward recently ran an unsuccessful campaign against John McCain

Former state Sen. Kelli Ward said she’s going to “take on the establishment once again” in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 2016 elections aren’t over, but Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is already facing a primary challenge in 2018 from former state Sen. Kelli Ward. 

Ward announced Wednesday on her radio show “The Kelli Ward Connection” that she will take on the Republican senator, who has been a consistent critic of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. 

“I’m going to take on the establishment once again,” Ward said. She also challenged Sen. John McCain in this year’s Senate primary, but McCain won handily in late August.

[McCain Cruises to Easy Primary Win in Arizona]

“Sen. Flake might be semi-well-liked but he doesn’t have the longevity of John McCain, he doesn’t have the reach of John McCain, he doesn’t have the war hero status of John McCain,” Ward said. “And so I think that it’s an excellent opportunity for us.”

“I think that as Republicans, we should be looking, because I’m sure there’s going to be a strong Democrat contender who’s coming up against, you know, running for that Senate seat,” Ward said. “And so we need to have the strongest person possible to defeat that Democrat. And of course I think that person is Dr. Kelli Ward.” 

[Sore Losers: Senate Candidates Ingracious in Defeat]

Ward encouraged listeners to send in hashtags supporting her race, and said she particularly liked “Flake the Snake.”

Flake was first elected to the Senate in 2012, after serving six terms in the House. He has been a leading Republican critic of Trump, particularly of the GOP nominee’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

After a 2005 video surfaced showing Trump bragging about groping and kissing women against their will, Flake called on Trump to step aside as the party's presidential nominee.

Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter @bridgetbhc.

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