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5 Potential Conservative Replacements for Sen. Jeff Flake

Man in suit points to the right, as he stands in front of a pillar behind his wife in a white dress.

On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced he would not run for re-election in 2018. The Senate Leadership Fund super PAC announced it would not support the current frontrunner, state Sen. Kelli Ward.

"The one political upshot of Sen. Flake's decision today is that Steve Bannon's hand-picked candidate, conspiracy-theorist Kelli Ward, will not be the Republican nominee for this Senate seat in 2018," Steven Law, president and CEO of the super PAC, declared in a statement Tuesday.

As of Wednesday morning, there are only three declared candidates in the race: Ward, pharmacist Nicholas Tutora, and Craig Brittain, who founded the controversial revenge porn website IsAnybodyDown and has an alternative to Uber called Dryvyng (seriously). Brittain has also allegedly referred to himself as "a f**king genius and a legend," saying that people he has never met "should be honored to even be in my presence."

Ward has a solid lead in the primary, but Flake's dropping out should change the entire dynamic of the race. The Hill has even listed deep-red Arizona as a state in which Democrats might steal the Senate seat from Republicans because Ward has many problems of her own.

Here is a list of five potential conservative candidates to run against Ward and replace Flake.

1. John Shadegg.

Shadegg has longstanding conservative credentials, going all the way back to Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), the conservative hero who ran for president in 1964. He represented Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2011.

In the early 2000s, Shadegg served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC). He joined the race for House majority leader in 2006 as a compromise between Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). National Review, the Club for Growth, The Arizona Republic, and RedState all supported his bid.

Shadegg opposed Obamacare early on, called for the investigation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and opposed a deadline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He also championed the Enumerated Powers Act, a measure that requires any bill passed by Congress to explicitly state where the Constitution gives Congress the power to make that law.

Shadegg has not suggested his interest in the race, but he would be a powerful challenger for Ward.

2. Martha McSally.

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) was the first woman to fly in combat and the first woman to command a U.S. Air Force fighter squadron. She also sued the Department of Defense (DOD), successfully striking down the military policy requiring U.S. and UK servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear the body-covering abaya.

McSally won election to Congress in 2014 and re-election in 2016. In her first term, she had seven bills approved by the House, making her third in the number of bills she authored that have made it through the House. She has written many "narrowly drawn proposals to improve homeland security or to help veterans."