President Donald Trump and White House officials have had a series of conversations with prospective Republican candidates about challenging Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 primary.
Kelli Ward, who has already launched her campaign, and Robert Graham, a former state GOP chair and Trump adviser who is considering it, both told CNN on Monday they have had multiple conversations with White House officials about opposing Flake in the Senate primary.
Graham said the talks began shortly after the 2016 presidential campaign concluded, and both Graham and Ward said further conversations took place as recently as two weeks ago.
Another potential candidate -- state treasurer Jeff DeWit -- has had multiple conversations with Trump, sources familiar with those talks said. DeWit is close with Graham, making it unlikely both would run.
If you're surprised in the least by Trump coming to slice Flake's throat open, you haven't been paying attention to the Revengeaholic-In-Chief .
Trump was furious at Flake last fall when the Arizona senator called on Trump to withdraw from the presidential race after the emergence of the "Access Hollywood" tape.
He told a small group of Arizona Republicans last fall -- including Graham -- that he would spend $10 million on defeating Flake in the 2018 Senate primary, a source familiar with the conversation confirmed. That conversation and the White House's further involvement in recruiting a primary challenger were first reported Monday by Politico's Alex Isenstadt.
"They used Jeff Flake in Hillary Clinton's ads, for heaven's sakes. It was like pouring salt on the wounds," Graham told CNN.
Flake made Trump look bad. Now Trump will most likely end Flake's political career. The message is clear: if there are any Republicans in the Senate even considering turning on Trump, they're dead and buried where they stand.
By the way, one of the Democrats running against Flake in 2018 is Deedra Abboud, a Muslim attorney who lives in Phoenix. If Trump's blackballing doesn't end Flake's career, then Flake refusing to attack Abboud for being Muslim should finish him off nicely.
I have no sympathy for Flake because I know whoever replaces him on the GOP side will be worse.