Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision not to run for reelection opens up a wild race to replace him in a 2018 Arizona contest, yet his departure also comes as bad news to Republican and Democratic challengers already running.
Republican Kelli Ward had counted on taking on a wounded Flake, who has slumped in popularity as he has publicly criticized President Trump in a state that voted for the president in 2016. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, on the other hand, had counted on facing either Flake or the controversial Ward in a general election, giving Democrats their best opportunity in years to pull the seat into their hands.
Now, Arizona politicians expect a renewed push among Republicans to expand their roster of challengers to Ward, which gives her a tough race in the primary and also may give Sinema a far more complicated path in a general election. In short, the open seat may simultaneously cause problems for both the right wing of the Republican Party and for Democrats.