Trump Met With Potential Primary Opponents for Flake While in AZ

Is John McCain's Mini-Me in trouble in Arizona?

While there for his recent rally, President Trump got together with some Arizona Republicans who might be interested in trying to unseat Jeff Flake, the first-term junior senator from the state.

President Donald Trump huddled privately with potential Republican primary challengers to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake before taking the stage in Phoenix on Tuesday night.

The backstage meeting included former state GOP chairman Robert Graham and state treasurer Jeff DeWit -- two candidates Trump has urged to consider opposing Flake -- as well as Rep. Trent Franks and Graham's 13-year-old daughter.

Faith Graham posted a photo of the group  on her Instagram account. The meeting was  first reported by Politico.

Two sources familiar with the meeting told CNN it was focused on ousting Flake -- who Trump calls "the flake."

Flake has been no friend of the administration. As  I have mentioned in previous posts about him, he also isn't well liked among most of the Arizona conservatives I know. They were hoping Flake would provide a strong conservative contrast to John McCain, who they feel has wandered far afield in the last decade and a half. Flake has merely provided a rubber stamp for most of McCain's agenda and almost all of his attitude.

Kelli Ward is the only declared challenger to Flake thus far:

Those sources also said Trump was surprised  that his positive tweet last week about  Kelli Ward, the former state senator who had already entered the race, was taken by some as an endorsement, and that Trump did not mean it as one. The President, according to the sources, has been persuaded that Ward -- who drew 39% support in her primary campaign against Sen. John McCain in 2016 -- is a weaker candidate than alternatives such as Graham or DeWit.

My conservative Republican friends in Arizona tend to agree with that assessment. She's a bit of nutty candidate who allows her campaign to make questionable choices.

Flake does appear to be vulnerable, but it is of course early. Should some of the Republican Party stalwarts get the backing of the president and the administration to make a run at him, a first term incumbent would probably be a bit easier to pick off.