Republican Senator Kelli Ward’s primary campaign are joining in against Senator Jeff Flake, showing signs that President Donald Trump’s allies are seriously preparing to sack the incumbent, The Hill reports.
According to the Hill, founder and co-chair of the Great America PAC, and the group’s executive director Brent Lowder, will join the Arizona senator’s campaign.
“Eric and Brent are highly accomplished political operatives with strong track records of success,” Ward said in a statement.
“They played an important role in the election of President Trump and are now committed to helping me to send Jeff Flake into retirement next year. We are excited to have them join the team and know they will have an immediate positive impact on our campaign.”
The news came after Robert Mercer, conservative donor and New York hedge fund billionaire supporting Trump, have some $300,000 this week to an outside group that backs Senator Ward’s efforts. This implies that pro-Trump forces are increasing efforts to remove Flake, emerging as one of Trump’s fiercest critics at the White House. Flake has been promoting his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” which argues that Republicans should have done more to stand up to Trump and that it’s time to reclaim conservatism from him.
Trump has not backed a candidate in the Arizona race but the White House is keeping close tabs on the primary there. Ward has visited the White House, as have two other potential pro-Trump candidates from Arizona.
“We’ll see how it plays out,” a White House official told The Hill.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee will wholeheartedly defend incumbents up for reelection, and many strategists have expressed their doubt that the White House will interfere in the primary.
However, the relationship between McConnell and Trump has went sour this week. McConnell has said he was frustrated with the White House’s “artificial deadlines” to move legislation, while President Trump and his allies are raving at the majority leader over the GOP’s failure to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
“I don’t know why McConnell came out attacking the president and pointing fingers and saying expectations are too high,” Ward said in an interview with The Hill earlier in the day.
“The American people have high expectations because Republicans told voters if they gave us the House and Senate and White House we could accomplish anything. Now instead of checking those off, we’re hearing excuses. Well, the era of excuses is over…If McConnell wants to keep his leadership role, he should be focused on getting Trump’s America first agenda through Congress.”
Meanwhile, Flake stepped in McConnell’s defense. The Great America PAC acted as a pro-Trump super PAC during the campaign and claims to have raised some $30 million in support of his candidacy.
It is now a nonprofit called the Great America Alliance and includes former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as advisers. The group recently added pro-Trump conservative activist Tomi Lahren as a spokesperson.
“Senator Jeff Flake has continually failed Arizona and is more interested in selling his new book by attacking the President than actually serving his constituents and getting things done,” Beach said in a statement. “Arizona deserves far better from their Senator.”