President Donald Trump ally Joe Arpaio announced his intention to run for U.S. Senate in Arizona on Tuesday.
The 85-year-old Republican will seek the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” Arpaio told the Washington Examiner. “I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not (be) doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper, I get that everyday, anyway.”
“America’s Toughest Sheriff” was an early backer of Trump in The Grand Canyon State in 2015. In fact, he was one of the few elected officials to endorse the New York businessman during the Republican primary.
Trump won the primary by over 20 points and carried the state over Hillary Clinton in the general election by 3.5 percent.
In an interview with The Western Journal in November, Arpaio stated he was mulling a Senate bid, noting he had never lost a Republican primary since first running for Maricopa County sheriff in 1992.
The county, which encompasses Phoenix and the surrounding communities, is the most populous in Arizona with over 4 million people, approximately 60 percent of the state’s population.
Arpaio prevailed over his three GOP challengers by taking 67 percent of the vote in 2016’s Republican primary, with the next closest rival garnering just 26 percent.
Arpaio ultimately lost his re-election bid that November to serve his seventh term as sheriff by 11 points.
He attributes the loss to a criminal contempt of court charge filed against him by the Obama Justice Department in October 2016, just weeks before Arizona voters went to the polls, and the $2 million spent by liberal billionaire George Soros against him.
Federal prosecutors chose to file a misdemeanor charge, thus circumventing the need for a jury trial, and a federal judge convicted him in July.
The following month, Trump pardoned Arpaio.
Arpaio sees being a senator as a way he could assist Trump in Washington, D.C.
“I was with Trump from Day 1, and I’m going to do everything I can to help,” he told The Journal. “One way is to become a senator.”
Arpaio will face former state Senator Dr. Kelli Ward for the Republican nomination.
The physician garnered statewide name recognition in 2016 by challenging Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary. Ward lost the race, but held the five-term senator to his lowest re-election bid tally, at 52 percent.
Congresswoman Martha McSally, who represents a district which includes Tucson, is also reportedly considering running for the seat.
Some analysts believe Arpaio’s entry in the race could split the conservative vote, making a pathway for the more moderate McSally.
On the Democrat side, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is the likely nominee.
The Cook Political Report currently rates the race a toss-up.
For those concerned that Arpaio might be too old to seek the office, the former lawman said they should not be and cited precedent.
“Age means nothing. I’ll outgun anybody,” he stated. “I worked 14 hours a day. Everybody thinks I’m 60 or 70.”
Arpaio pointed out that former Arizona Democrat Sen. Carl Hayden retired at age 91 after serving in Congress from 1912 to 1969. Immediately before his congressional bid, Hayden, like Arpaio, was Maricopa County sheriff.
Arpaio said he would likely only serve one term, which would have him leaving office at approximately the same age as Hayden.
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