The Associated Press PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who was spared a possible jail sentence when President Donald Trump pardoned him for disobeying a judge, announced Tuesday that he would run for the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Jeff Flake.
The 85-year-old longtime lawman said the lack of support for Trump’s agenda in Washington inspired him to make the bid. He also cited supporters who urged him to seek public office again after a crushing 2016 re-election defeat following six terms as sheriff of metro Phoenix. Then Trump offered the pardon last summer.
“If I go to my grave, I don’t think I’d be happy if I didn’t take the shot to run,” Arpaio said, adding that Trump had not asked him to run.
Arpaio’s plan could set up a race in which one of the president’s most prominent supporters attempts to take over for one of his fiercest critics.
Flake has sparred with Trump over free trade, immigration reform and opening relations with Cuba, even while supporting parts of the president’s agenda, like recent tax cuts. Trump, in turn, has denounced the senator, who is not seeking re-election after acknowledging that he could not win a GOP primary in the current political climate.
Arpaio’s announcement also raised questions about whether he was serious about the Senate or if he was mainly seeking publicity. Over the years, he flirted with running for Arizona governor no fewer than five times before demurring and abandoning the idea.
Asked whether the White House supports Arpaio’s candidacy, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment.
Arpaio said he would accept a Trump endorsement, but he would not seek it.
“If you know my history, you know they [other candidates] ask for the endorsements,” Arpaio said. “You never see me with a list of endorsements.”
The former sheriff’s ambitions also sparked speculation that he could edge out a former state senator, Kelli Ward, in the GOP primary and could potentially create an opening for Republican Rep. Martha McSally, who colleagues have said is planning a Senate run but has not yet made an announcement.Speech