07/23/2012 01:23 pm ET

Sarah Palin Endorses Jeff Flake In Arizona Senate Race

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin threw her support behind GOP Rep. Jeff Flake, who faces a tough primary against businessman Wil Cardon in the U.S. Senate race.

"The United States Senate needs a leader like Jeff Flake," she said in a statement released by the Flake campaign. "Jeff is a proven conservative crusader, and today I am proud to announce my support for his campaign to become the next U.S. Senator from the great state of Arizona."

"Throughout his tenure in Congress, Jeff has been a consistent leader against the federal government's out of control spending," she continued. "Jeff is known for his media releases titled 'Just How Broke Are We?' where he brings home the reality of what our unimaginable $15 trillion debt really means in everyday terms."

Flake thanked fellow Republican Palin for the endorsement in a press release.

Cardon, a Republican who is self-funding his campaign, has attacked Flake's past support for comprehensive immigration reform as a way to question his conservative credentials. His touting of Palin's endorsement is likely an effort to shore up his reputation.

(Palin hasn't always chosen the insurgent candidate; she recently endorsed Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) who prevailed over a challenge from a Tea Party candidate in a primary race in his reelection bid.)

Following the Aug. 28 primary, the winning Republican candidate in Arizona will face Richard Carmona, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary for that Senate race.

Carmona's campaign seized on the Palin endorsement. "This endorsement shows Congressman Flake is hitting the panic button in a primary he used to lead by 50 points," said Carmona spokesman Andy Barr in in an email. "Sarah Palin once railed against the good old boy network in Washington -- and yet she just endorsed a career politician and lobbyist who 'lied' about his term limits pledge, has used campaign contributions to pay himself $90,000 and was a registered foreign agent for a uranium mine partially owned by Iran."

A representative from Rep. Jeff Flake's office could not be immediately reached for comment.