Why the GOP is facing an existential crisis

This week, a series of high-profile defections from the Republican Party has brought the party’s number of defections in the Senate to 16.

That number has ballooned since February, when President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominated Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to replace retiring Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).

Flake was one of the most vocal opponents of Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, Tom Price.

That week, he announced his decision to support Flake in his re-election bid, a decision that caused a backlash.

Flake had long been seen as a moderate who would bring balance to the GOP.

This week was no different, as he told a radio station that he was “not ready to get on the bandwagon with the president.”

Flake’s announcement came just one day after the president said he would not seek reelection and that Flake would resign.

The Arizona senator had served in Congress since 1997 and has never lost an election.

“We’ve had some great Republican senators who’ve served our country and done some great things, but they’ve all had their times, and I’m going to have mine,” Flake told KKTV-FM, a local station in Arizona.

Flake’s political future is uncertain, and Flake’s decision to retire in 2020 makes him the third GOP senator to announce he would no longer be a member of the party.

Other senators who have already announced their retirements include John McCain (R) of Arizona, Jeff Flake’s wife, Raul Labrador (R), and Mike Lee (R); all of whom have been considered a top contender to run for president in 2020.

It’s unclear if other Republicans will join Flake in the 2020 race, though Sen. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) is considering a run.

Other GOP senators who are leaving the party are South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.), Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford (R,) and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D), who have said they won’t seek reelection.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), the son of a former president and a former senator, announced his retirement on Friday, saying he was leaving the GOP because he doesn’t want to be a “party of obstructionism.”

Cruz has long been considered one of Trump of the least popular members of Congress, but has drawn more support from conservative voters.

In addition to the defections, Sen. John Thune (R—S.D.), the Senate majority whip, announced he would retire from the Senate, and Sen. Richard Burr (R —N.C.) said he was resigning after a public spat with the administration.

Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) also announced he will retire, and he has been criticized for the way he handles the Russia investigation, including refusing to hold hearings.

A handful of other lawmakers have also announced they would not run for re-elections, including Rep. Mark Sanford (R.) of South Carolina, who announced he wouldn’t seek re-nomination, and Rep. Ted Poe (R.), who announced his plans to retire.

The party is currently in the midst of a bitter primary battle between Sens.

Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, two of the GOP’s most popular senators.

Lee has been critical of Trump, who he said in a statement, “has repeatedly called me names and threatened to jail me for criticizing his administration.”

He added that “the president has not only bullied me, he has actually lied to me, which I take very personally.”