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Sen. Jeff Flake’s primary challenger raised $1 million in 2017

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — The midterm election is still more than a year away, but the race is already looking tight for U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

According to The Hill, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, Flake’s sole primary opponent, has raised more than $1 million in funding so far in 2017, after raising nearly $700,000 in the third quarter of the year alone.

In comparison, the junior senator from Arizona raised $1.1 million in the third quarter of the year and now has $3.4 million cash-on-hand.

In a statement to The Hill, Brent Lowder, chief strategist for Ward’s campaign, said it is “gaining incredible momentum.”

“We are exactly where we want to be at this early stage of the campaign,” he said. “Senator Flake and his supporters should be very worried about this trend.”

Related: Flake’s vulnerability feeds GOP Senate concerns

This development is one in a string of troubling events for Flake.

Ward has used the senator’s ongoing feud with President Donald Trump to gain trust and support within the Republican Party, even earning a shout-out from the president on Twitter.

While Flake does not appear to be phased by this criticism, brushing off the president’s insults and even publishing a book that takes on the rift within the Republican Party, several early polls have showed that he is at risk of losing in 2018.

The challenge to hold onto his seat was thrown on its head in September, when U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced her campaign for Flake’s spot. Sinema could be well-poised to win and she already has the support of Sen. Chuck Schumer, the head Democratic member of the U.S. Senate.

But Flake has not shown any signs of backing down: Just this week, he held a fundraiser in Scottsdale that was hosted by former presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Ward is expected to get fundraising help from conservative radio host Laura Ingraham during a fundraiser next week at a Scottsdale resort. Robert Mercer, a Trump supporter, has also donated at least $300,000 to an outside group that supports Ward.

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