Gage Skidmore / Flickr Jeff Flake amp John McCain...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in a move that surprises exactly no one, is eyeing a primary challenge to Donald Trump in 2020. Flake has been a reliable, self-proclaimed detractor of the orange one since he decided not to run this fall to keep his Senate seat. Now he’s taking his pretend principles to New Hampshire.

“It has not been in my plans to run for president, but I have not ruled it out,” the 55-year-old Flake said Friday in his first solo political appearance in New Hampshire. The state is expected to host the nation’s first presidential primary election in less than two years.

“I hope that that someone does run in the Republican primary, somebody to challenge the president,” Flake said. “I think that the Republicans want to be reminded what it means to be a traditional, decent Republican.”

After attacking Trump in a speech that spanned nearly 20 minutes, Flake earned a standing ovation from the packed room that gathered for the esteemed “Politics and Eggs” speaker series at Saint Anselm College. […]

He has already written a book that slams Trump. He condemned Trump on the Senate floor and charged in a speech on Thursday at the National Press Club that his party “might not deserve to lead” because of its blind loyalty to Trump. By visiting New Hampshire, Flake is now declaring the possibility of another tactic: a 2020 primary challenge.

For all those attacks, Flake has voted with Trump 86 percent of the time according to FiveThirtyEight’s individual vote tracker. To give him some credit, he’s supported disaster relief funding in opposition to Trump, as well as opposed Trump on immigration. But on everything else—including all the horribly Trumpist cabinet and judiciary nominees—he’s been right there to back Trump up.

Make no mistake: on policy, on substance, Flake is right there with Trump. It’s the style he disagrees with.

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