KEY POINTS

  • Former Sen. Jeff Flake told The Washington Post he will not vote for Trump
  • This follows a long line of public spats the former Senator has had with Trump
  • However, his voting record proves he supported Trump more often than not

Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told The Washington Post that he will not vote for President Donald Trump in his bid to win a second term this November. WaPo asked him if he would be “comfortable casting a vote for a Democrat,” and Flake responded with “This won't be the first time I've voted for a Democrat — though not for president. Last time I voted for a third-party candidate. But I will not vote for Donald Trump.”

Flake served in the Senate from 2013 to 2019, and won six terms in the House of Representatives prior to that, earning a reputation for bucking the Republican Party line, despite voting along with it many times, like in the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. FiveThirtyEight found that Sen. Flake voted with President Trump 81.3% of the time, 21.1% more often than their model expected given Trump’s 2016 vote margin in Arizona.

WaPo asked him about this seeming contradiction in his vote for Justice Kavanaugh, and Flake responded by asserting that “There would have been nothing more satisfying to me than to deny the president,” but explained his vote by saying “But it would have, I thought, set a precedent that would be dangerous in the long term if we had an allegation that was uncorroborated — that that, in and of itself, could sink a nomination. That’s territory that the Senate shouldn’t be in.”

He is not shying away from this declaration, as he shared the WaPo interview with his Twitter followers with the message that “Trumpism cannot be the future of the Republican Party.”

Flake is neither leaving the Republican Party nor pushing for people to vote for Democrats down the ballot in races other than the presidential contest, telling WaPo that “we have a good system. The pendulum swings when one party takes it too far. [Republicans will] be ourselves again. So it's not a pox on all your houses. I'm not trying to burn the place down or anything else. I think we'll be back.”

Arizona is expected to be one of the few swing states in the 2020 election, along with Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and possibly Ohio. While some have expected this Republican to swing votes against Trump in Arizona, Flake has consistently had low approval ratings since Trump became president. In fact, a 2018 poll indicated that Flake was more popular amongst Arizona Democrats than Arizona Republicans, so it remains to be seen whether this declaration will actually hurt Trump's chances at reelection.