Hours after Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced his campaign for the seat being vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), tea party umbrella group FreedomWorks, best known as the arm of the movement led by former House Republican leader Dick Armey, endorsed Flake in an email blast sent by its PAC.
“Endorsing Jeff Flake is a no-brainer,” FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe said in a statement. “He’s principled, he’s consistent, and he’s fearless in the fight for lower taxes, less government, and more individual freedom. If the Tea Party is going to reduce the size of government, it will need more Jeff Flakes in the United States Senate.”
The backing of FreedomWorks helps solidify Flake as the national fiscal conservative choice. He’s already got the endorsement of the Club For Growth, which has promised to lend a hand in getting him elected.
Early polling shows Flake may not enjoy the support in Arizona he does on the national circuit. A poll taken several days before Flake formally announced his Senate campaign showed him trailing Sheriff Joe Arpaio, another a tea party national star. Arpaio has not said if he’ll run, though there are reports he is considering it.
Flake is something of an immigration and social issue moderate, having voted in support of the so-called comprehensive immigration bills critics decry as “amnesty” laws and has been just one of roughly a dozen House Republicans who voted in favor of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Both stances may make him more attractive to a general electorate, but it’s not clear how they’ll play with Arizona’s conservative GOP base.
But with the Club For Growth and FreedomWorks behind him, Flake can boast his own tea party bona fides in the face of attacks from the right. And FreedomWorks is an especially good tea party backer — in its release today, the group called itself “pivotal” in the election of tea party stars like Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).