February 9, 2017
An anti-immigration group has launched an television ad in Arizona suggesting that Sen. Jeff Flake, an immigration-reform supporter, might undermine President Donald Trump's agenda.
Though not a campaign ad, Californians for Population Stabilization, based in Santa Barbara, takes aim at Flake, a freshman senator, as his 2018 re-election cycle gets going.
Flake, R-Ariz., was a vocal GOP critic of Trump during last year's presidential race and in turn was attacked by Trump as "a very weak and ineffective senator." He specifically was critical of Trump's signature proposal to erect a border wall and force Mexico to pay for it. As a result, Flake is viewed by many Democrats and Republicans alike as potentially vulnerable.
"Senator Jeff Flake says he's ready to work with President Trump on immigration. Really?" the 30-second TV spot's narrator says. "This is the same Jeff Flake who sponsored the 'Gang of Eight' bill to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. The same Jeff Flake who pushed for more foreign workers to take American jobs. The same Jeff Flake who opposed mandatory jail time for illegal aliens that repeatedly sneak across our border.
"The same Jeff Flake ready to work with President Trump? We'll see about that."
Flake and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were members of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" who collaborated on a 2013 bill that attempted to balance a massive investment in border security with a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants who have settled in the United States and an updated visa system for future foreign workers.
The bill passed the Senate, but the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would not consider it. It was the last major attempt to reach a bipartisan compromise on the issue that has dogged Congress for more than a decade.
Asked about the ad, Flake dismissed it as an attempt by the California group to "get some earned media," or free publicity from news media who give additional exposure to the commercial's message. According to GOP operatives who track advertising spending, the TV buy is relatively small: $24,200 on broadcast TV and $18,546 on cable, where it will only appear on Fox News.
"I think people understand that on immigration there are some areas that I'll be with Trump on and some areas where I won't," Flake told The Arizona Republic.