Flake's Senate farewell speech cites threats to democracy

WASHINGTON (AP/FOX 10) - Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is warning in his farewell address that the "threats to our democracy from within and without are real."

Flake is perhaps the most vocal Republican critic of President Donald Trump in the Senate. While Flake did not mention Trump in his speech Thursday, he said that describing the state of the nation's politics as "not healthy is something of an understatement."

Flake also warned about global events, saying that Russia's President Vladimir Putin is determined to hijack democracies. He said the U.S. should recognize that, as "authoritarianism reasserts itself in country after country that we are by no means immune."

Flake served only one term in the U.S. Senate, but before that he represented Arizona in the House and was a Republican Party fixture in Congress for several years.

Flake was first elected to the House in 2000. He then won his Senate seat in 2012 when he replaced Jon Kyl, who has since rejoined the Senate, filling late Sen. John McCain's seat.

Flake declined to seek re-election to a second term, acknowledging his battles with Trump made it unlikely that he could survive a primary challenge.

Flake has called for fellow Republicans to challenged Trump in the 2020 election. There has even been speculation that Flake is considering a run in 2020, although he has suggested other senators would make for better choices.

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Democrat Kyrsten Sinema will fill Flake's seat when the 116th United States Congress is sworn-in on January 3, 2019.