Senate candidate Kelli Ward in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Oct. 17, 2017.
Ross D. Franklin, AP

Corrections & clarifications: An earlier version of this column should have disclosed that the author, Ed Rollins, is chairman of Kelli Ward's Senate campaign.   

With tax reform passed and signed into law, Republicans are entering 2018 on an unprecedented high. Leave it to Sen. Jeff Flake to be a Christmas grouch.

The retiring Arizona Republican recently called the massive crowds at rallies for President Trump the “spasms of a dying party”— his latest parting shot at Trump supporters. Given his 18% approval rating last summer in Arizona, the dead-in-the-water senator’s latest salvo about Republicans is lathered in irony. He continues to educate his party about electioneering while choosing retirement to avoid an embarrassing defeat in this year's Republican primary. Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward had a nearly 30-point lead over Flake the month before he announced his departure.

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While Flake prepares for political oblivion, Ward is the newest face of the Trump revolution — a movement not unlike the Reagan revolution that I witnessed firsthand. 

I served in Ronald Reagan's White House and managed his reelection campaign in 1984. Then, like now, the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was more than a transformative political figure — he was the face of a national revolution. President Reagan won more than 54 million votes in 1984, carrying 49 out of 50 states. Americans overwhelmingly trusted him to roll back government bureaucracy, unleash economic prosperity and pursue peace through military strength.

More than three decades later, Trump ran and won on similar promises. He too vowed to hold Washington accountable, jumpstart sluggish economic growth, and rebuild America’s military to protect our nation’s interests first and foremost. His message resonated in corners of the country where the liberal media and political punditry thought it impossible.

And he is succeeding. It is no coincidence that Trump recently overhauled our outdated tax code for the first time since the Reagan years, rewarding job creators and employees alike with pro-growth tax cuts.

Americans are fed up with the status quo. According to the Cooperative  Congressional  Election Survey, nearly two-thirds of 2016 voters indicated government corruption was an issue of "very high importance" to them. These voters supported Trump by roughly 30 percentage points over Hillary Clinton, proving that the American public wants political figures to stand for their principles and drain the Washington swamp.

The Washington establishment should take it as a warning, and take conservative outsiders seriously. Those running for the Senate this year include state senator Eric Brakey of Maine and Marine Corps veteran Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin, as well as Arizona’s Ward, perhaps the most prominent of the upstart challengers so far.

As a family physician, Ward is a qualified spokeswoman against Obamacare’s rising premiums and limited options, and one who can continue rolling back burdensome health care mandates when elected. She is also uniquely qualified to care for her constituents the way she cared for the sick through her private practice and emergency room work. 

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For years, Arizonans expected Flake to act on his campaign promises. They expected him to help secure the border, repeal Obamacare in full and replace it with a free-market alternative, and hold the Washington swamp accountable to Americans outside the Beltway. But establishment Republicans such as Flake have failed dreadfully. Instead of supporting Trump’s “America First” agenda, which won Trump Arizona and nearly 63 million votes nationwide in 2016, Flake and other “Never Trumpers” made it their agenda to undermine the president at every turn and curry favor from the failing anti-Trump crowd.

Unlike Flake, Ward is unequivocal in her support for a wall along America’s southern border, rightly claiming that “national security begins with border security.” She has proposed a “border security bill that includes funding and starting of Trump’s border wall,” which would “include 24/7 high tech monitoring accessible by the public online.

Ward’s agenda is to help make America great again, not score “Never Trump” brownie points. Much like Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, we will see her go to Washington to change it and fight for the America First agenda. 

Is it any wonder that Americans are turning to candidates like Ward after years of disappointment? She is a true representative of the Trump revolution that Americans voted into power. After years of broken promises from used-car salesmen posing as politicians, the Trump Republicans will shake things up by trying a different tactic. They’ll keep their word.

Ed Rollins is a former assistant to President Reagan and managed his 1984 reelection campaign. He currently serves as chairman of Kelli Ward's Senate campaign and chief strategist for the pro-Trump Great America PAC.

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