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BREAKING: Joe Arpaio May Run For Senate

Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff pardoned by President Trump last week, is thinking about running against one of his state’s Republican U.S. senators.

The Washington Examiner reported that Arpaio, now that he is no longer facing a possible six-month jail term, is considering his options. He might focus on giving speeches and writing a book. Speculation is growing that the ex-sheriff might challenge Sen. Jeff Flake in next year’s GOP primary election. “I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” Arpaio told the Examiner on Monday. “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.”

Arpaio’s 24-year career as the sheriff of Maricopa County ended after he lost his re-election bid in 2016. He was recently convicted of contempt for ignoring a court order to stop arresting suspected undocumented immigrants who were not crime suspects. The 85-year-old Arpaio sparked outrage by holding immigrants in an outdoor tent-city jail that he proudly described as a “concentration camp.”

The former lawman expressed his gratitude to Trump by calling him a “great” president and volunteering to work in the White House. He also blasted Republicans (including Flake and John McCain, Arizona’s senior senator) who spoke out against the pardon. Arpaio made public appearances with Trump on the campaign trail in Arizona last year. The friendship goes back years, to when the two men were leaders of the “birther” movement that claimed Barack Obama came from Africa.

In January, the outgoing sheriff denied suggestions that he might run for public office. However, he now claims to have had a change of heart. “With what I’ve seen happening in recent months, especially what’s happening with our president, I said, ‘Hey, why not?’” Arpaio explained. When asked to respond to those who believe he is too old for a political campaign, he fired back: “Why do you say ‘wow?’ They just say Sheriff Joe Arpaio comma 85 years old. Why do they always say that? … There is discrimination against senior citizens, big time. … 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. The bottom line is there’s no way I’m going to go fishing. I have no hobbies.”

Flake, who has angered a number of Arizona Republicans by coming out against some of the president’s policies, already has one opponent in the primary: Kelli Ward, a former member of the Arizona Senate. She is more loyal to Trump, but has been called a conspiracy theorist, according to the Examiner.

Vanity Fair noted that Trump is urging Republicans to challenge the incumbent senator. The president has called him “Flake Jeff Flake,” alleging that the lawmaker is “weak” on crime and immigration issues. In a recent poll, just 22 percent of Trump supporters said they had a favorable opinion of Flake. Sixty-three percent of them expressed disapproval. Among all Arizona voters contacted by the pollsters, the senator had an approval rating of only 18 percent. Another survey found that Ward was leading Flake, 47 percent to 21 percent.

Source: Washington Examiner, Vanity Fair
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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