Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona declared his candidacy to succeed Jon Kyl in the Senate on Monday. The announcement drew immediate praise from the Club for Growth, whose president, Chris Chocola, praised Flake as “a proven, tireless champion for economic freedom.” One gets the impression many of the happy warriors at the Club For Growth spent the morning refreshing Google searches for “jeff flake az senate” until they got the hit they were waiting for.
Flake has earned the laurels Chocola bestowed upon him. He’s been an outspoken opponent of big spending and earmarks throughout his five terms in Congress. He didn’t like pork-fried legislation any better when George Bush was signing it. He tried to put together an all-star budget-cutting subcommittee as soon as the Republicans took the House. He stood atop the lame-duck bridge between the last Congress and this one, telling the Omnibus Spending Balrog that it shall not pass.
Democrats have been hoping to grab the open Senate seat by running Gabrielle Giffords, who is reportedly continuing to make excellent progress recovering from the injury she sustained in the horrific Tucson shooting. While devoutly hoping she’s in top shape to run a vigorous race if she decides to declare her candidacy, I don’t put much faith in the conventional wisdom that she’s a lock to win if she runs.
The overall political environment in Arizona remains favorable to Republicans, and Kyl is retiring with above-average approval ratings for an incumbent. Giffords has always been a relatively moderate Democrat, but if she announces a Senate run, she’d be under immense pressure to carry the freak flag of the far-left groups that declared her a martyred saint in the war against the Republican “Climate of Hate.” Those people would be awfully disappointed if she runs for Senate on the same platform she’s used in her House races, not least in the area of protecting 2nd Amendment rights. Giffords would be a solid Democrat candidate, but she’s far from a shoo-in.
If the people of Arizona are interested in thoughtful, responsible Senate representation, Jeff Flake just gave them an excellent candidate to rally around.