- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday that he has no plans to leave the Republican Party despite lagging poll numbers.

“[In] off year polls … incumbents are always down. It’s not that they’re inaccurate, they’re probably accurate. It’s just they’re not very relevant right now,” Mr. Flake, Arizona Republican, said on MSNBC.

When asked if he would consider leaving his party to run as an independent, he quashed the notion.

“I’m a Republican. I’ve been a lifelong Republican, and I think I’ll stay one,” he said.

Mr. Flake wrote a book earlier this year titled “Conscience of a Conservative,” in which he slammed President Trump and his party for moving away from conservative ideals. The Arizona senator said he does not want to leave the party, but rather move the party back to its foundation and away from the new populist movement.

He also said that he is supportive of the Graham-Cassidy bill as a first step toward replacing Obamacare.

“There are 183,000 Arizonans who are paying the fine to the federal government because they can’t afford care. Many of them, if not most of them, had insurance before the Affordable Care Act came along, [and] 80 percent are making less than $50,000 a year,” he said.

“This doesn’t fix everything with Obamacare. We’re going to have to do that with a bipartisan bill. This is a first step,” Mr. Flake added.

He added that he has been speaking with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain about the bill, but wasn’t sure if Mr. McCain would ultimately support the legislation. Mr. McCain cast the surprising vote against the Republicans’ last replacement plan back in July.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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