Sheriff Joe Arpaio, freshly pardoned by President Donald Trump, told the Washington Examiner Monday that he is considering a run for U.S. Senate.
“I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” Arpaio told the Examiner. “I’m sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me … All I’m saying is the door is open and we’ll see what happens. I’ve got support. I know what support I have.”
Incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake, a frequent critic of President Trump and one of the most prominent pro-amnesty and pro-mass low-skill immigration Republicans, already has one announced primary challenger: Dr. Kelli Ward. Ward, a populist former Arizona state senator running on an immigration hawkish platform, was already praised by President Trump and secured the endorsement of eminent conservative commentator Laura Ingraham.
“Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “He’s toxic!”
A poll released Monday had Ward up by almost 25 points in a hypothetical two-way race with Flake.
If Arpaio, who, in his 24 years as Sheriff of Maricopa County became a fixture of Arizona conservatism and a symbol of resistance to illegal aliens, enters the 2018 Arizona GOP primary, it potentially splits the challenge to Flake from the right.
Arpaio, who would be 92-years old at the conclusion of the term at which he is hinting, hit back at any suggestion his age precludes such a run. “They just say Sheriff Joe Arpaio comma 85 years old. Why do they always say that?”Arpaio told the Examiner, adding, “[T]here is discrimination against senior citizens, big time” and “I’m proud to be my age. I work 14 hours a day. If anyone thinks my age is going to hold me back, I’ve got news for them.”
Until Friday, when President Donald Trump made good on his implication he would pardon Arpaio, Sheriff Joe was facing jail time on a contempt conviction stemming from a decade old ruling that his immigration enforcement policies constituted “racial profiling.” Arpaio always maintained his innocence and denied willfully disobeying the federal court’s order. He was tried and convicted without a jury, allowable because of federal prosecutor’s decision to pursue only a minor misdemeanor punishable by only six months in prison.
Supporters were intensely skeptical that an Arizona jury would ever convict the man they elected as sheriff of their most populous county. “There is no way a jury would have determined that the Sheriff willfully and intentionally violated the judge’s order,” National Center for Police Defense (NCPD) President James Fotis, who was present in the courtroom, told Breitbart News.
President Trump appeared before a raucous Phoenix, AZ, crowd Tuesday, asking “So was Sheriff Joe convicted of doing his job?” to affirmative cries and exclaiming “He should have had a jury!”
When he finally pardon Arpaio, the media, celebrities, the political left, and even establishment Republicans, including Jeff Flake and fellow pro-amnesty Arizona Sen. John McCain, were outraged. The notably dramatic left-wing Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) went so far as to suggest the pardon proved Trump was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Arpaio told the Examiner he was “surprised” by Flake and McCain’s takes.
Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 26, 2017
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 26, 2017
By contrast, potential Senate primary opponent Kelli Ward reacted warmly, tweeting a picture of the two together:
— Dr. Kelli Ward (@kelliwardaz) August 26, 2017