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Joe Arpaio for Senate?

 

Joe Arpaio

Fresh off his controversial Presidential pardon, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is reportedly considering running against Senator Jeff Flake for the Republican Senate nomination next year:

Controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio said Monday that he is considering another run for public office, including a potential primary challenge against Sen. Jeff Flake.

Arpaio, a vocal supporter of Trump’s during the campaign, was unseated last November from his position as Maricopa County sheriff. But with his name in the spotlight once again following a pardon from Trump last week, Arpaio said he could mount another bid for public office.

“I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” the former sheriff told The Washington Examiner. He said “I’m sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me” to challenge Flake (R-Ariz.), who refused to endorse Trump during last year’s election and has been among his most vocal GOP critics.

“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,” he said.

(…)

Trump pardoned Arpaio for the conviction late last Friday, one in a flurry of controversial announcements from the White House that came just as a category four Hurricane made landfall along the Texas coast. On Twitter, Flake was critical of the pardon, writing that “I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.”

Throughout his political career, Arpaio has frequently floated himself as a candidate for higher office and used those trial balloons to raise campaign money. When he announced in May 2014 he wouldn’t seek the state’s open governorship that year — he had teased a potential bid in a fundraising email two months prior — the Arizona Republic noted it was the fifth time Arpaio publicly considered running for governor but ultimately passed on the race.

(…)

Arpaio, who is 85 years old, bristled at the notion that his age might count against him if he were to run for office again. He told the Examiner that “there is discrimination against senior citizens, big time” and that “the bottom line is there’s no way I’m going to go fishing. I have no hobbies.”

“They just say Sheriff Joe Arpaio comma 85 years old. Why do they always say that?” he said. “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.”

This statement is far from an official campaign announcement, of course, and it’s worth noting that Arpaio has flirted with the idea of running statewide in the past only to back away from actually getting into the race. Given that, and taking into account both Arpaio’s age and the fact that his wife has reportedly been recently diagnosed with cancer, it’s worth taking reports like this with a grain of salt. Additionally, it’s unclear that Arpaio would actually be much of a threat to Flake in a statewide race. In addition to the controversy that his pardon has generated both inside Arizona and nationally, the idea that he’d have an easy time in a race against much younger candidates who have actually run statewide before. Finally, there’s the fact that Arpaio lost his re-election bid last November by nearly 200,000 votes in a county where he had won decisively numerous times in the past. By all accounts, the former Sheriff isn’t nearly as popular in the rest of Arizona as he was in his home jurisdiction, so it’s unclear that he’d really be a serious contender in a statewide Republican Party.

Counterintuitively, getting Arpaio into the race could possibly end up benefiting Senator Flake in what is likely to be a tough re-election bid. Right now, his only announced serious challenger is Kelli Ward, a State Senator who was first elected in 2012 and who last ran for election as a challenger to John McCain just last year. McCain ended up beating Ward by more than 70,000 votes in that battle, but many observers expect her to be a strong challenger against Flake, who is making his first bid for re-election after being elected to the Senate seat formerly held by Jon Kyl in 2012. If Arpaio or others were to enter the race, it’s possible that the anti-Flake vote, which will likely be made up mostly of strong supporters of the President, will be divided enough that the Senator will be able to eke out a win in the primary with a plurality of the vote. In any case, at the very least this announcement means we’ll likely still be hearing more from the guy that President Trump refers to as “Sheriff Joe.”

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Lit3Bolt says:

    This is more grifting by a man desperate for cash. Sheriff Joe still has lots of legal liabilities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  2. CSK says:

    If Arpaio did jump in, it would probably be good news for Flake. Kelli “Chemtrails” Ward has the kook vote wrapped up, but is that enough to secure a win for Flake?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. KM says:

    This statement is far from an official campaign announcement, of course, and it’s worth noting that Arpaio has flirted with the idea of running statewide in the past only to back away from actually getting into the race. Given that, and taking into account both Arpaio’s age and the fact that his wife has reportedly been recently diagnosed with cancer, it’s worth taking reports like this with a grain of salt.

    Should he run and win but decide to bow out for “health reasons”, the governor gets to pick his replacement, same as McCain. That may be the end goal to get rid of Flake since it seems like they don’t trust the ballot box to do it for them. If Arpaio wins, Trump gets a buddy and yes man and the GOP gets an easily replaceable Senator. If he loses, he served as a warning to everyone with an election coming up: behave or we’ll primary you no matter what, even with a recently pardoned nutcase. If Flake wins, the GOP still keeps the seat and power. It’s kinda win-win for everybody but Flake.

    Really, why wouldn’t Arpaio? Conservatives seem to have adapted troll culture as their raison d’etre lately and this is a giant FU to Flake, NeverTrumpers, his own haters and liberals in general. He may do it just to ride the wave of adoration from his nutty followers for one last rodeo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Flake has gambled that there is still a large # of sane Republicans among the Arizona electorate. Sorry Jeff, if they were sane they wouldn’t be Republicans anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Trump and Arpaio…today’s Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Joe says:

    Arpaio could have a senate desk next to Roy Moore. They would get along famously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Don’t forget Kid Rock.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. al-Ameda says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Flake has gambled that there is still a large # of sane Republicans among the Arizona electorate. Sorry Jeff, if they were sane they wouldn’t be Republicans anymore.

    I’ve got to laugh. Jeff Flake tried to game the recent Healthcare Bill vote to his advantage. He tried to have it both ways. He denounced the bill as terrible legislation, and then voted ‘yes.’ I suppose he figured the low-value-low-rent-low-information Trump voters in Arizona would only notice the ‘yes’ vote? He might as well have voted ‘no’, because he’s going to take the same heat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @al-Ameda:
    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I wonder if Flake could run as a Democrat, take enough moderate Republican voters with him, and win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Jen says:

    My folks live in Arizona, not far from Arpaio. From what they tell me, Arpaio “ponders” running for higher office fairly regularly. He never ends up doing so. Maybe this time is different, but eh, I’m of the opinion he just likes to see his name in print and have people tell him how great he is. Reminds me of someone else, but I can’t put my finger on who…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Jen: I was going to toss a similar observation into the chatter. I read that Sheriff Jose has a long history of threatening to run for higher office. But in this century….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. t says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Don’t forget Kid Rock.

    Say what you want, but i’d cast my vote for senator

    BAWITDABADABANGDABANGDIGGYDIGGGYDIGGYSHAKETHEBOOGIESAIDUPJUMPTHEBOOGIE

    without hesitation here in alabama. he’d be a vast improvement over the current lot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Argon says:

    Having demonstrated a disregard for Constitutional authority, would the Senate have to confirm him? After all, the oath of office requires obeying and protecting the Constitution.

    Hahaha. Just kidding. Of course the Senate would confirm him. It’s only a problem when Democrats do it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Electroman says:

    @Jen: Yep, I have Arizona family and they say similar things. The pro-Joe part of the family thinks he’d be a shoo-in, but the rest seem to think he wouldn’t stand a chance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Tyrell says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: you forgot Ike Clanton.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Paul Hooson says:

    He was portrayed by his supporters as a frail 81 year old man when they lobbied for a pardon. Now, they want him for the Senate. They want it both ways…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Tyrell says:

    @t: Dwayne Johnson 2020

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I wonder if Flake could run as a Democrat, take enough
    moderate Republican voters with him, and win.

    I was wondering the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. James Pearce says:

    Joe Arpaio and Roy Moore maybe joining the Senate with Trump in the White House? File this under “Problems that can’t be solved by taking a knee during the national anthem.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Joe Arpaio and Roy Moore maybe joining the Senate with Trump in the White House? File this under “Problems that can’t be solved by taking a knee during the national anthem.”

    I’ve filed it under “America In Decline – The Republican Years”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. t says:

    @Tyrell:

    Dwayne Johnson 2020

    best post you’ve ever made on here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. James Pearce says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I’ve filed it under “America In Decline – The Republican Years”

    It hasn’t even been a year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. John430 says:

    @Argon: OTOH– Democrat Cong. Alcee Hastings was a federal judge In 1981. Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case.
    In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413–3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate, becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate. The Senate, in two hours of roll calls, voted on 11 of the 17 articles of impeachment. It convicted Hastings of eight of the 11 articles. The vote on the first article was 69 for and 26 opposed.

    Today, he is a senior Democrat whip and a darling of Pelosi’s team.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0