Sen. Martin Heinrich will be sad to see Sen. Jeff Flake go.
Flake, an Arizona Republican, announced his retirement from the Senate Tuesday while denouncing President Donald Trump in a scathing floor speech.
Flake’s path to re-election to a second term appeared difficult in the early going, as polls showed him trailing Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat who has announced her campaign for the seat.
Flake will finish out his term, which expires at the end of 2018. Heinrich is seeking election to a second term next year.
“The Senate will be worse off without Jeff Flake’s honesty, integrity and willingness to speak his mind,” Heinrich said in a statement. “We should all fear the ramifications of a system which seems to be driving people of his caliber away from this institution.”
Heinrich counts Flake among his closest friends in the Senate. The two politicians once suggested bipartisan policy lunches on Capitol Hill. Not surprisingly given the over-the-top partisan climate in Congress, the proposal went nowhere. The two lawmakers even spent several days together on an otherwise deserted island in 2014 (as television cameras rolled) in an effort to demonstrate that politicians from opposing parties can work together.
Flake’s announcement was cheered by the White House and some Trump supporters. Some other conservatives who have been critical of Trump’s behavior viewed Flake’s denouncement of Trump as too little, too late.