- Associated Press - Monday, February 14, 2011

PHOENIX | U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced Monday he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Mr. Flake became the first announced candidate in the Senate race with an announcement at the same hotel where Republican Sen. Jon Kyl announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election.

Mr. Flake said his priorities include balancing the federal government’s budget, securing the border and working on transportation and water policy issues.

“That’s what motivates me as I make this campaign,” Mr. Flake said. “I’m all in.”

Broader action is needed on illegal immigration than just border security, but border security “needs to be the focus,” he said.

On the budget, Mr. Flake said everything needs to be on the table, including possible changes to Social Security. But he said changes shouldn’t apply to current beneficiaries.

“The federal government has kicked the can down the road so long that we no longer have any road left,” he said of red ink in the federal budget. “I can’t stress enough how important it is right now to be bold.”

Mr. Flake has represented the 6th Congressional District in the Phoenix area since 2001.

He previously considered challenging Republican Sen. John McCain but did not, concluding he would lose badly. Even before Mr. Flake had announced plans to run for the Senate, his potentially strongest rival for the GOP nod, former Rep. John Shadegg, had announced that he wasn’t going to run. Mr. Shadegg’s GOP successor, Rep. Ben Quayle, also confirmed that he won’t be running, either.

Mr. Flake declined Monday to speculate how he’d fare against two potential Democratic candidates - former Gov. Janet Napolitano and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Ms. Napolitano resigned as governor in January 2009 to become U.S. Homeland Security secretary. Mrs. Giffords, who won re-election to her House seat in November, is recovering from a head wound suffered in a Jan. 8 Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage.



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