Update (4:30 PM EST): Not surprisingly, Jeff Flake has awarded his first, post-resignation interview to CNN who just happens to be making a lot of new Republican friends today...Here's what he had to tell Jake Tapper:
— CNN (@CNN) October 24, 2017
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After months of feuding with President Trump, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has just officially confirmed to the Arizona Republic that he will join Senator Bob Corker in not seeking re-election in 2018.
Condemning the nastiness of Republican politics in the era of President Trump, Sen. Jeff Flake on Tuesday announced he will serve out the remainder of his term but will not seek re-election in 2018.
The bombshell, which Flake, R-Ariz., intended to detail Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor, will further roil Republican hopes of keeping the party's 52-seat Senate majority in the midterm elections of Trump's first term, when the president's party historically loses seats in Congress.
He told The Arizona Republic ahead of his announcement that he has become convinced "there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party."
Speaking on the Senate floor shortly after revealing his retirement, Senator Flake launched attack after attack on the Trump White House telling colleagues that U.S. politics have become "injured" by the "reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior" emanating from the White House.
We must never regard as "normal" the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country - the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.
None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.
Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as "telling it like it is," when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.
And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength -- because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness.
Jeff Flake: "We must never meekly accept... the personal attacks, threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions." pic.twitter.com/CP0s5pREQL
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 24, 2017
On his chances of actually winning re-election in 2018, Flake said that doing so would require him to " believe in positions I don't hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone."
Flake said he has not "soured on the Senate" and loves the institution, but that as a traditional, libertarian-leaning conservative Republican he is out of step with today's Trump-dominated GOP.
"This spell will pass, but not by next year," Flake said.
Among Republican primary voters, there's overwhelming support for Trump's positions and "behavior," Flake said, and one of their top concerns is whether a candidate is with the president or against him. While Flake said he is with Trump on some issues, on other issues he is not. And Trump definitely views him as a foe, having denounced Flake publicly and called him "toxic" on Twitter.
"Here's the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I'm not willing to take, and that I can't in good conscience take," Flake told The Republic in a telephone interview. "It would require me to believe in positions I don't hold on such issues as trade and immigration and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone."
Of course, both Trump and former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon will likely applaud Flake's retirement after previously throwing their support behind his Republican primary challenger in Arizona, Dr. Kelli Ward.
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Phoenix crowd last night was amazing - a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2017
That said, perhaps no single group is more excited about the recent resignations of Senator Bob Corker and Jeff Flake than Democrats who will undoubtedly argue that they are merely a foreshadowing of the collapse of the Republican Party. So, what say you?