Perfecting McMaverick repositioning
U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake has done another politically adroit about-face. This latest one is on the issue of tougher sanctions against Iran. Throughout his six terms, Flake had been a staunch opponent of sanctions, repeatedly voting against such penalties on Iran, Cuba and other rogue nations. Flake reveled in his prominence among a handful of members of Congress to oppose such actions.
But since declaring a senate bid he’s flipped on his long-held position — even praising the Senate when it voted for more stringent sanctions earlier this week. Tacking right while campaigning to appeal to conservative primary voters is an angle he has learned from his mentor, John McCain. Six-year senate terms give plenty of time to recommit to Libertarian views without having to answer to the voters.
Flake’s epiphany on the issue has suspiciously coincided with the declaration of his senate candidacy. Jeff Flake not only signed onto this tough Iran sanctions bill in May, he voted in favor of it as recently as December 2011.
Then after the Senate passed the measure on Tuesday, the cunning Flake actually praised the action in this statement: “Limiting the Iranian regime’s access to the capital it needs to produce nuclear weapons is a necessary action to be taken. We need to send a strong signal to Iran in advance of the Baghdad negotiations tomorrow that their actions to develop nuclear weapons won’t be tolerated. Putting a choke hold on Iran’s financial resources could avert disaster for Israel and the rest of the Middle East.”
Flake’s Iran votes have emerged as a campaign issue since conservative Republican businessman Wil Cardon, his serious opponent in the upcoming senate primary, pointed out that Jeff Flake once worked as a lobbyist and a registered foreign agent representing Namibia and a uranium mine there partially owned by Iran. Flake has since received $100,000 in contributions from mining interests.
Last October Flake voted for HR 1904, authorizing a 2,300 acre land swap in Arizona that would give a Namibian uranium mining firm access to copper in our state. The company, Rio Tinto, is the majority owner of the mine in which Iran has a 15 percent stake. Nimble contortionist Flake voted against a measure that would have barred firms doing business with Iran from access to U.S. copper.
In his home district, U.S. Rep. Flake positions himself as a conservative. In Washington D.C. he partners with Luis Gutierrez, one of the most ardent radical liberals in congress. Gutierrez actually commends Flake for helping “to turn more red states blue.” But when he was on a multi-state tour in favor of the Amnesty/DREAM Act, which they both championed, Jeff Flake stayed far away from his colleague as he rabble-roused in Phoenix.
This is an association the home folks would never understand.