Could Jeff Flake's retirement help Democrats take control of the Senate?

Jeff Flake has thrown the 2018 race into disarray
(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) surprised his colleagues and the media on Tuesday by announcing that he won't seek re-election in 2018, saying on the Senate floor that he won't be "complicit" in President Trump's "unacceptable" behavior any longer for a GOP that's become a "fearful, backward-looking minority party." But Flake was almost certainly going to lose his primary. "Flake was dead," said Jonathan Swan at Axios. "Everybody knew it, including Republican leadership." Democrats and Republicans both said that Flake's retirement boded well for their electoral chances in increasingly purple Arizona.

On the one hand, Flake's retirement "boosted Democratic optimism about what once seemed unthinkable: winning control of the Senate in 2018," The Washington Post reports, a steep climb since Democrats are defending 25 seats — 10 in states Trump won — while Republicans are defending just eight seats. "Democrats already were investing in Arizona's 2018 race on the theory that the state's growing Latino electorate and Trump's unpopularity would make it competitive," the Post says, and the party has a candidate, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), it believes has a good shot at capitalizing on the GOP split.

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