By the Watertown Daily Times
PHOENIX (AP) — In a story June 2 about Arizona's 2018 Senate race, The Associated Press reported erroneously that no Democrat has announced a bid to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake. Community activist and first-time political candidate Deedra Abboud has announced for the race.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Arizona Sen. Flake walks tightrope as 2018 election looms
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake returned to the state this week and has been constantly reminded of the tightrope he must walk as he gears up for a 2018 re-election bid
By BOB CHRISTIE
PHOENIX (AP) — As Republican Sen. Jeff Flake returned to Arizona this week during a congressional break, he was constantly reminded of the tightrope he must walk as he gears up for his 2018 re-election bid.
Protesters on the left followed him around with a giant inflatable chicken whose hair style was patterned after President Donald Trump. Their message: Don't be a chicken and stand up to the president on issues like health care. On the right, a former tea party activist ripped him on a daily basis over his moderate stances.
Flake faces a tough test next year that is emblematic of the challenges many Republicans will encounter in the first midterm election of the Trump presidency. The left is energized on issues like health care, and the right is targeting politicians like Flake who have been outspoken in their criticism of the president.
The junior Arizona senator was a frequent critic of Trump during the 2016 campaign and has said he didn't vote for him. In his visit to Arizona week, he touted his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement — a deal Trump took the first steps to renegotiate or dismantle last month. But Flake also points out his support of Trump's Supreme Court and cabinet picks.
"I think people appreciate independence," Flake said during a wide-ranging interview this week.
"I'll support the president when he's right and I'll oppose him when he's wrong."
Flake faces at least one Republican challenger next year, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, and others are waiting in the wings, considering whether to jump in. They include state treasurer Jeff DeWit, an early Trump backer who ran the president's campaign finances and would surely get big backing from him. Just one Democratic opponent, community activist and political newcomer Deedra Abboud, has entered the race.
Ward has taken aim at Flake for bucking his party's right wing and backing immigration reform, dubbing him "sanctuary senator." She also criticized him for the backing he gets from former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, another Trump critic who is set to appear at a Flake fundraiser on Friday. Former President George W. Bush also came to Arizona for a recent Flake fundraiser, and he can count on the loyal backing of fellow Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"In my last election I had somebody spend about $9 million, mostly painting me as out of touch with Arizonans on immigration," Flake said. "That person got 20 percent of the vote after spending $9 million. We beat 'em by 49 points."
Flake points to McCain's easy 2016 re-election win, where he too abandoned Trump after a 2005 tape emerged of Trump making lewd remarks about women. Arizona remains a solidly red state, but independents now outnumber Democrats and Republicans.
"(McCain) garnered I think, 250,000 more votes than the president did. Won the state by 14 against his opponent - the president won by 3½ points," Flake said. "So I think Arizonans are more independent."
But it's the vulnerability from the left that is likely more problematic for Flake. He's a target of opponents of the Affordable Care Act repeal, who drag out the inflatable chicken at many of his events.
"I think he's absolutely vulnerable if he votes to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act," said U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, a rising Democratic star from Phoenix who has been critical of the House-passed repeal and replace plan. "Health care is a very personal thing, we've learned it as Democrats. Republicans are going to learn the same thing if they pull this system out from underneath people."
Flake has had a full schedule this week, appearing at businesses and events across metropolitan Phoenix, launching a push to defend NAFTA against a possible Trump pullout, making an appearance at a nuclear plant, speaking to business leaders and working to boost
his campaign coffers. As of March 31, records show he had about $1.8 million on hand.
Flake avoided town hall meetings that have stirred up liberal voters and protesters like the one he faced earlier this year. At events before friendly crowds this week, like a Glendale Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday, he still got questions critical of repealing health care law.
Flake acknowledges the House-passed bill, under which congressional analysts estimate 23 million people will lose coverage, has no chance in the Senate. The Senate is now working on its own plan, but Flake won't commit to backing it until he's reviewed it.
Retired property manager Bill Morris was at the Glendale event and said he is worried about the effects of the repeal on his Medicare and on friends with other types of insurance. He said he wants Flake to stand up to Republicans who are pushing a repeal.
"I would tell him to vote his conscious and not his party," Morris said. "This is the United States, he's responsible to all of us, especially here in Arizona since he's one of our two senators."
Flake cites insurers fleeing the private marketplace as evidence that Congress has to act.
"For those who say let's just keep the ACA as it is, that's not possible. It's not going to survive as it is, we know that," Flake said. "In Iowa, already, the only insurer there has indicated an intent to pull out. We're going to have a lot of people with no choice at all.
At the same time, he's aware of the big boost that an expanded Medicaid program under Obama provided in Arizona.
Arizona has seen more than 400,000 people get insurance, plus another 20,000 children under a plan known as KidsCare, under Medicaid expansion. Nearly all would lose coverage under the House plan unless the state embraces a massive tax increase, which is virtually impossible in the Legislature. About 200,000 people buy private insurance on the federal marketplace, and many would see dramatic changes there too and likely lose affordable coverage.
"With (Medicaid), particularly in those states that expanded, they've come to rely on that pretty quickly," he said. "And it would be a big jolt to the budget and big problem for those who have coverage if it were to end immediately."
Glendale, Ariz. –The Glendale City Council unanimously approved a contract awarding Downtown Manager services for the city to the Glendale Chamber of Commerce at Tuesday evening’s formal council meeting.
The Glendale Historic Downtown District has long been a priority focus for the city. The city’s Economic Development staff recommended using the services of an independent Downtown Manager under the umbrella of a private organization to develop a diverse, cohesive and unified perspective on strategic priorities for Glendale’s Historic Downtown District. The Downtown Manager will be working with all business interests to have a voice in shaping their future.
The first efforts of the Downtown Manager will be to connect with every member of the downtown business community and invite them to work collaboratively to identify their priorities and establish coordinated strategies to assist their businesses.
“Glendale’s Downtown is not only the heart of our community, it is the soul of our community,” said Mayor Jerry Weiers following the vote. “To achieve the council’s vision, we must support a vibrant city center that we are all proud of while facilitating the sustainability of our Downtown Glendale businesses. This priority requires targeted, consistent support and focus. Through our significant partnerships over the years, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce has consistently proven their commitment to our downtown and I am confident they will do a phenomenal job.”
The chamber will lead the downtown merchant efforts in the presentation and revitalization of historic downtown Glendale. Strategies and plans will be developed to create a more diverse, livable and sustainable downtown, while encouraging new economic development.
“Redevelopment is one of the most effective ways to breathe new life into our city center,” said City Manager Kevin Phelps. “This exciting partnership provides the opportunity for the downtown business community to collectively identify and advance their shared priorities to meet the unique needs of downtown Glendale.”
According to city officials, the new public-private partnership will strengthen Downtown Glendale and encourage an environment of activity, energy and vitality. Moreover, the partnership is intended to unite Historic Downtown Glendale partners and stakeholders in a common goal to increase the economic prosperity of business, and grow residential opportunities for the City of Glendale.
“Revitalization of downtown Glendale remains a top priority for our Economic Development Team,” said Economic Development Director Brian Friedman. “In order to re-energize our downtown in a meaningful and sustainable way, specific strategic actions should be taken to diversify and grow our local economy. The Downtown Manager will facilitate, promote, and advance the efforts to revitalize our downtown core by building on the strong social fabric and superb physical characteristics of our historic downtown.”
Led by CEO Robert Heidt, the chamber will work cooperatively with the city’s Economic Development Office to deliver Downtown Management services throughout the life of the contract by providing enhanced direct services targeting marketing and economic development.
“Through our redevelopment initiatives and strategies, downtown Glendale will get the focused attention necessary to create jobs, revitalize the business climate, attract new businesses, and introduce sustainable new development,” said Heidt. “We will also help the city “build a framework to positively influence and impact the economic health and preservation of historic downtown Glendale.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of the relationship we have built with the city and its Economic Development team,” said Heidt. “For us it’s all about promises made and promises kept, and we appreciate the vote of confidence the city council has given us.”
The three-year Downtown Manager contract begins July 1, 2017 and includes a renewal option for two additional years.