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Twelve Stories: How Democracy Works Now | Participants



Congressman Jeff Flake

In the summer of 2003 we started shooting with Rep. Jeff Flake because he was preparing to introduce an immigration bill with his fellow Arizonan, Rep. Jim Kolbe. Rep. Flake struck us as unusually independent, especially for a House Republican in 2003. He‘s a dyed in the wool Libertarian, he fights earmarks from both parties, and he agitates to lift the Cuban embargo. Rep. Flake is also open about his childhood on his family‘s ranch, where workers came and went from Mexico quite freely-- that safe circularity is what he wants to restore to US/Mexico migration. And as his caucus was whipped into a frenzy over “Amnesty for Illegals”, Rep. Flake stuck to his guns on immigration reform, always pushing for a solution to the crisis his state was facing.

In 2004 there was so much going on in Arizona-- it was a swing state in the Presidential elections that year and there was an anti-immigrant ballot initiative up that was attracting a lot of national attention. That summer we also shot with Rep. Flake as he faced a primary challenger, largely because of his immigration bill. His opponent boasted that “a ham sandwich could run on illegal immigration and get 40% against Flake”.

Rep. Flake won that primary, and went on to introduce major immigration legislation in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Rep. Flake is a fifth-generation Arizonan, raised on a ranch in Snowflake, Arizona (the town was named, in part, after Jeff's great-great grandfather). After serving a Mormon mission in southern Africa, Jeff graduated from Brigham Young University, where he received a B.A. in International Relations and an M.A. in Political Science. He also met his wife, Cheryl, they‘ve been married for 24 years and have 5 children.

He is currently running for the US Senate.

Congressman Jeff Flake appears in Stories 5 The Kids Across the Hill, 8 The Road to Miami, 9 Protecting Arizona, 10 Brothers and Rivals, and 11 The Senate Speaks
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