There’s a lot of chatter out there to the effect that Republican Senators won’t pay any political price for voting to sink Toomey-Manchin yesterday. That may well be true, but as we seek to determine whether there will be any political fallout at all from the vote, one place to look is Arizona.
Senator Jeff Flake was thought to be one of the gettable Republicans on Toomey-Manchin. This was arguably his first major high profile vote after winning a close election, and in the end he came down as a No. The reaction on the front page of the Arizona Republic is brutal:
Note the picture of Joe Biden and the crying woman, juxtaposed with a picture of Gabrielle Giffords, and that big headline with the word “outcry.” Also note Flake’s No vote juxtaposed with fellow Arizona Senator John McCain’s Yes vote.
Meanwhile, an editorial in the Arizona Republic directed scathing criticism at Flake himself, ripping him as “cowardly” and claiming he “failed the test” of “political bravery.” It added: “This was not a proud day for Arizona’s new senator.”
Flake was also denounced by the same Tucson shooting spree survivor who yelled “shame on you” from the Senate gallery yesterday. “I’m embarrassed,” she later said. “He’s a flaky flake.”
Flake has also gotten himself embroiled in a public spat with Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of Giffords — and a friend of Flake. After Flake said on Fox News that he does indeed want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, Kelly Tweeted:
I’m confused, friend. You had that chance yesterday. Want to rethink and join me and Gabby in making Arizona safer?
Flake may have a chance to do just that sooner than he might have expected. Harry Reid said today that he intends to bring expanded background checks back for another vote. You can expect that Giffords and Kelly — and others — will keep up the pressure on their friend the Senator. I don’t have any idea whether that will make any difference in the long run, but Flake will be interesting to watch to gauge the fallout of this vote in coming days.