Number of Republicans considering a run against Flake on the rise


Ted Simons: Up next on Arizona Horizon. Jeff flake's senate seat is tracking a lot of attention from fellow republicans. Confederate monuments in Arizona. A new report looked at the impact of the arts on the local economy. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

Ted Simons: Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." The court struck down flight path changes in the FAA. It rule in favor of the city of phoenix that claimed the changes were arbitrary and capricious and violated laws. The FAA said it improved safety and efficiency. The court order does not take effect until FAA has an opportunity to ask for a hearing. Ed Zirker said they should conduct a review of a police response, the protest of president trump's rally. It's needed to ensure confidence in the department. The police were aggressive and violent. Police chief Jerry Williams said they acted appropriately and with appropriate force. Solar panels near monument valley started to produce electricity for the Navajo nation, enough to power 13,000 homes. The facility is the first utility scale solar project to go operational on the Navajo nation. All of this as the region prepares for the December 2019 closure of the coal fire Navajo generated station. Increasing number of republicans are eyeing Jeff Flake's U.S. senate seat. Those expressing interest are Jeff Dewitt, Robert Gram, Kelly Ward who's already announced the candidacy. And even Joe Arpaio who says lots of people are asking him to run. Here to talk about all of this is political consultant Wes Gullet, the CEO of strategic communications. Been a while. Good to have you here. Why are so many republicans thinking of running against a fellow republican.

Wes Gullet: I think in the new world order we have with President Trump, anything is possible. And Jeff Flake has not made himself a big friend of the president's, even though he votes with him all the time, the president and Jeff -- senator Flake have butted heads. I think republicans are seeing an opportunity. They see polling numbers that are not flattering for senator Flake and they think they can get in.

Ted Simons: Now, that suggests that everyone thinks that senator Flake is vulnerable to a primary challenge. Is he?

Wes Gullet: Anybody in Arizona is vulnerable to a primary challenge if you're not extremely conservative. And senator Flake has marked a position of being a little more moderate than most. His voting record is very conservative. But he was worked on immigration reform. He's worked on a number of things. He was -- a swing vote on getting rid of Obama care. Those kinds of things make him look like a moderate, even though the voting record is very conservative.

Ted Simons: All right, let's look at some of these possible challenges here. Jeff Dewitt, state treasurer, why would he run?

Wes Gullet: Well, he's looking for a step up. There's no question about that. He's very interested. Remember, he took on the governor on one, two, three. That was a big fight. He's not afraid of getting in a big fight. And he was the first person elected statewide in the nation to endorse president trump. So Trump likes him. He was C.O.O. of the Trump campaign. So he's close to the Trump people. If Trump people were mad, Dewitt would be a natural.

Ted Simons: He would beat Flake in the primary?

Wes Gullet: I don't think so.

Ted Simons: You don't think so? How come.

Wes Gullet: I don't think -- at this stage in the race, it's easy to say the incumbent is vulnerable. The incumbent can raise enormous amount of resources and have expenditures on his behalf, the money makes the player field a lot more level. And at the same time, the conservative voting record. Going to talk to moderates about the moderate positions vis-a-vis the president. If he can pull off a certain percentage of the conservatives with the conservative voting record and long time relationships in Arizona, it would be really attractive.

Ted Simons: It would seem so. Who is Robert Gram? Does he have a chance?

Wes Gullet: He's a party chairman. He's a business guy. He was the party chairman when Trump was running. The Trump people like him. He -- the conservatives in the party have inflated his position in his mind, I think. Very different to run a race.

Ted Simons: Statewide primary. A familiar name. People thinks he makes shirts or something like that. Other than that, most people around the state have no idea who he is.

Wes Gullet: His name i.d. is not strong at all. He would have to buy that name i.d. he would have to go out, put up a lot of signs, do a lot of commercials just to get people familiar with his name. Jeff Flake has that.

Ted Simons: Joe Arpaio, how serious is he about running for this seat?

Wes Gullet: Any time Joe Arpaio has been one of the people who I’m going to run against McCain, this guy, that guy. He's always in the mix. And at the end of the day, I think at 82 or 81, whatever his age is.

Ted Simons: A little older than that, yeah.

Wes Gullet: It would be a tough race for him. Especially if the $95 million that the latest civil case costs that the taxpayers paid for, if he takes that kind of fiscal conservatism to Washington, we may have a bigger budget deficit.

Ted Simons: All right. Okay. So, again, we talk about someone who lost to a democrat in Maricopa county. We can't forget that.

Wes Gullet: Right. That's a little unfair. He got indicted and he had all of this stuff. Now he's been pardoned. He department get a jury trial. The 34% that support the president are all conservative republicans. When 30% vote in a primary and 30% of them are hard-core republicans, all of a sudden, that's a very big number. Senator flake is going to have to remind conservatives about his conservative voting record and do that a lot.

Ted Simons: Kelly Ward has announced she's in. Would she drop out if Jeff Dewitt, a Joe Arpaio, a Robert Grant, if any of these people came in. Because if she stays in and that splits the vote, cakewalk for Flake, I don't think.

Wes Gullet: I think it will still be close. I think there will be another conservative whether it's one of the people we talked about or somebody who claims that conservative banner. All they have to do is take 10% of the vote away from Kelly. She's in trouble. I don't believe that Kelly Ward would get out unless she was given the secretary of the air force or the -- the --

Ted Simons: Okay. See where you're going with that one. I understand what you're saying. Bottom line is, it would seem to me, these challengers who tied themselves to Trump, they're going to rise and fall with Trump. If Trump's numbers right now are not the latest around the country, obviously, with republicans, they're pretty strong. But if that -- you know, if that tide ebbs and flows, whatever, their chances go with it out to sea.

Wes Gullet: I worked with senator McCain. We want to keep it even. We want to keep it even. Don't get any closer. With Donald Trump, it's a thrill ride. It's the biggest roller coaster ride ever. Up, down, up. Daily. This is an up and down situation. And it just depends on how he's doing on a day that the early ballots drop, which is in the primary, in august, 20 -- first of August, 2018.

Ted Simons: Last question, very quickly. 0 no chance, 10 he's a lock.

Wes Gullet: I think he's a seven.

Ted Simons: What about the general against an equally strong democrat?

Wes Gullet: It depends on the president and it depends on -- if we're facing an extinction event in the republican party, it will be hard for the republicans to win all over the country. If we're not and the president is doing okay, Jeff Flake beats --

Ted Simons: If that democrat is not Jeff Flake -- I mean the republican is not Jeff Flake, the democrat --

Wes Gullet: Has a much better chance. That's what happened when the last democratic senator won. But you give Berra said never predict, especially when you're talking about the future.

Ted Simons: Good to see you again.

Wes Gullet: You bet.

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