Arizona Congressman Trent Franks is preparing a campaign for US Senate following the retirement of Jon Kyl. According to Politico, Franks intends to “campaign to the right” of already-announced Republican Congressman Jeff Flake in the primary. Running to the right of Flake or almost any other Republican shouldn’t be difficult for Franks, who was tied for first as the most conservative member of the House.
Franks is a frequent critic of President Obama, even going so far as to call him an “enemy of humanity” at a right-wing conference, and later claimed unconvincingly that he simply meant he was an “enemy of unborn humanity.” He even wanted to impeach Obama over his decision not to defend unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act and warned that Obama has an “ideological commitment” to “weaken America.” Most recently, Franks joined Rick Santorum to claim that Obama and his allies were deliberately trying to destroy America. Such rancid statements shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Franks has floated Birther conspiracy theories and said Obama consistently “acts un-American.”
Expect the Religious Right to rally behind Franks against the more libertarian Flake. Franks is a noted proponent of the charge that abortion providers are leading a genocide against African Americans, and said that African Americans were better off under slavery than in America with reproductive freedom. He even introduced legislation barring “race-based” abortion along with leading anti-choice figures, believing his bill will “blow a fatal hole in Roe v. Wade,” and also screened the discredited documentary Maafa 21, which argues that Planned Parenthood wants to exterminate African Americans, in Congress. Moreover, Franks participated in Lou Engle’s militantly anti-choice and anti-gay The Call rallies, and worked with Dominionist groups.
The possibility of a Franks candidacy has already forced Flake to abandon his previously pro-reform position on immigration to compete with Franks, who is an anti-immigrant hardliner. Politico reports that Franks is poised to announce following a fundraiser with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Michele Bachmann:
Currently in his fifth term, Franks has solidified himself as the most conservative member of Arizona’s delegation and indicated in early March he felt like he had a “responsibility to give the people a chance to choose between my perspective and Mr. Flake’s.”
Franks’ Senate announcement will come after a $250 morning fundraiser hosted by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arizona insiders warn that Flake’s flip on immigration gives Franks’s candidacy immediate room to grow in a state still consumed by border violence and crime by undocumented workers. The key question is whether Flake will be able to replicate Sen. John McCain’s conversion on the white hot issue.
“If it’s a two-person fight, I believe Trent wins. Flake’s flip on immigration kills him. He cannot effectively do a McCain and rebrand himself. McCain spent millions against a weaker opponent to rebrand himself. Flake will not have that luxury,” according to one GOP operative currently unaffiliated with either campaign.