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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will not seek Senate seat after Flake retirement

PHOENIX — After Sen. Jeff Flake announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in 2018 and would step down from Senate at the end of his term, a spokesman for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said he would not run for the seat.

In a tweet, spokeman Daniel Scarpinato said there was a “100 percent” chance that Ducey would stay out of the race.

In a statement released shortly after Flake made an emboldened speech on the Senate floor against the country’s “alarming state of affairs,” Ducey called the senator a “voice for fiscal responsibility at the federal level before it was popular.”

“I’ve appreciated his friendship, professionalism and intellect on policy issues impacting Arizona. I wish all the best for [Flake], Cheryl and their whole family,” Ducey said.

The future of Flake’s seat has been in question since President Donald Trump was elected into office.

Flake has repeatedly taken aim at Trump in the past, and the pair have engaged in lively arguments online for months. In August, Trump hit the senator in a tweet, calling Flake “toxic” and encouraging a rival for his seat.

In response, Flake said he had better things to do than pay attention to Trump’s criticisms, adding that “it is what it is and we’ve got a lot of support around the state and we’ve got a good campaign. It’ll take care of itself.”

Earlier this year, Flake released an anti-Trump manifesto, “Conscience of a Conservative,” a book in which he bemoaned his party’s failure to stand up to Trump in last year’s presidential race.

“We pretended that the emperor wasn’t naked,” Flake wrote.

The public feud between Trump and Flake has driven a wedge within the Republican Party and put a target on the back of Flake’s seat for both Democrats and Republicans.

Dr. Kelli Ward, a conservative who was supported by Trump, announced her campaign before the 2016 presidential election. She remains the front-running Republican in the race.

U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Phoenix attorney Deedra Abboud, a Muslim-American whom Flake defended after she was harassed online, are in the race for the Democratic Party.

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