- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A group of Arizona sheriffs honored Sen. Jeff Flake on Tuesday for his actions during a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice in June that left several injured.

The award ceremony in Tucson came as President Donald Trump visited Arizona on Tuesday. Trump has been a vocal critic of Flake and has expressed support for his Republican primary challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward. It also came as the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee with strong ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, launched an attack ad against Ward.

Flake was recognized by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Arizona Sheriffs Association for his response to the shooting on June 14 that left Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana severely injured. Flake ran from the dugout to help Scalise, applying pressure to his wound. He also called Scalise’s wife to let her know what happened before she found out through the news.

Sheriff’s Association President Mark Dannels, the Cochise County sheriff, said his groups wanted to highlight Flake’s courage.

“We honor you for your valor and compassion,” Dannels said. “We believe you represent the best of Arizona.”

Flake said he felt underserving of the award but was grateful and said he’s been honored to interact with peace officers across the state.

“I know what they go through and I know the dangers you face on a daily basis and I have an even greater appreciation after the incident that happened in June,” he said. “The heroes that day were the capitol policemen that were there, David Bailey and Agent (Crystal) Griner. I would not be here today if it weren’t for their (actions.).

Bailey and Griner shot back at the rifle-armed attacker and were joined by three Alexandra, Virginia, officers, who eventually killed the suspect.

The ad attacking Ward comes as top Republicans circle around Flake, who is a conservative but has not been afraid to take on Trump when he disagrees with him. Flake released a book last month that criticized some in his own party for failing to stand up to Trump on important conservative issues.

The online ad released Tuesday by the Senate Leadership Fund recalls a meeting Ward called in Mohave County to address constituents’ concerns about so-called “chemtrails” being sprayed from aircraft and her blaming Sen. John McCain for the rise of ISIS. Ward lost to McCain in last year’s Republican primary and is taking on Flake next year.

“Chemtrail Kelli’s got her head in the clouds, with crazy ideas,” the ad said.


This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Mohave County.

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