Everyone is talking about the “hot-mic moment” when Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said that the GOP would be “toast” if it becomes the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump.
It’s a big deal, I suppose and isn’t going to help his popularity with his constituency in Arizona.
Flake was at a tax reform event Saturday in his home town. He was caught bashing the President and Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate during what was supposed to be a private conversation with Mesa Mayor John Giles. The conversation was also caught on video.
“If we become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast,” he said.
But the bigger deal is the response from Giles.
He called President Trump an idiot and said Flake should launch a presidential primary challenge against Trump in 2020.
“And I am not throwing smoke at you, but you’re the guy that could just for fun, think about how much fun it would be, just to be the foil, you know, and to point out what an idiot this guy is.” Watch:
This matters because Giles is mayor of one of the most conservative towns in the country. Mesa is a staunchly Republican Mormon town that went for President Trump in margins much larger than the state.
In fact, Arizona voted for Trump, but it wasn’t a blowout. In fact, the President didn’t even win a majority of the votes. The results were 49 percent for Trump and 45.5 percent for Hillary Clinton. Libertarian Gary Jonson won more than 4 percent of the vote and Green Party candidate Jill Stein won just over one percent.
Compared to other presidential elections, it wasn’t a very good showing for the Republican president.
So Flake – who doesn’t like Trump – said something bad about Trump in a state that nominally voted for Trump. So what?
The bigger political scandal is what’s going to happen to Mesa’s Mayor. He is up for re-election next year and Mesa is one of those conservative suburban towns that is a Trump stronghold.
Asked by the local media if the Mayor stands by his comments, his office essentially said yes. In an official statement, he would only address Moore’s candidacy:
“As a life-long conservative Republican, I am troubled when candidates like Roy Moore send the wrong message about my party’s ethics and policies. We need more people like Jeff Flake in the US Senate, not Roy Moore.”
Local Pollster Mike Noble with OH Predictive Insights says the conversation shows how alarmed some Republicans are at the state of their own party.
“You could tell there is smoke rising from the GOP, now whether or not they are sounding the fire alarms remains to be seen,” said Noble.
Democrats in Arizona pounced on the controversy, saying Republicans are engaged in a “toxic civil war.”
.@JeffFlake's candidness further exposes the toxic civil war within the @AZGOP. This intraparty battle has created an ineffective, partisan discord that has Arizonans fed up with Washington. #AZSen https://t.co/vkVTx6TNoe
— AZ Democratic Party (@AZDemParty) November 18, 2017
“@JeffFlake’s candidness further exposes the toxic civil war within the @AZGOP,” they wrote on Twitter. “This intraparty battle has created an ineffective, partisan discord that has Arizonans fed up with Washington.”
What do you think? Will Giles go down too in 2020?