Oh My: Newly Pardoned Sheriff Joe Might Challenge Jeff Flake, Joining Kelli Ward In GOP Primary

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Aug 28, 2017 3:45 PM
Oh My: Newly Pardoned Sheriff Joe Might Challenge Jeff Flake, Joining Kelli Ward In GOP Primary

The Trump White House pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio after being convicted for contempt of court for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Hispanics. Of course, the Left went ballistic. Now, the Arizona sheriff could be looking to occupy a new office: the one currently held by Sen. Jeff Flake. The Washington Examiner’s Steven Nelson has more:

The former Maricopa County sheriff told the Washington Examiner he's upset at negative reaction to the Friday pardon, and that he feels Republican politicians are insufficiently supportive of the president, who he calls a great man.

"I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate," Arpaio said Monday. One particular race, however, is likely to gain significant attention: the GOP primary next year facing Flake, R-Ariz., a forceful Trump critic.

"I'm sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me" to challenge Flake, said Arpaio, who served 24 years as sheriff before losing reelection in 2016. "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 said he swore off another candidacy in January, when he left office, but that "with what I've seen happening in recent months, especially what's happening with our president, I said, 'Hey, why not?'"

Arpaio, who is 85 years old, said people should not scoff at his potential candidacy.

An Arpaio challenge would form another front from which Flake would have to mount another defense in a state where he barely won in 2012 and isn’t popular at all. President Trump has taken to social media to torch Flake as pretty much a do-nothing Republican senator who is weak on key issues, like immigration and strong borders. At his Phoenix rally last week, Trump ripped into both Flake and McCain, though he didn’t mention their names. At the same time, you didn’t need to be Einstein to figure out whom the president was referring to in his remarks. Right now, former state Sen. Kelli Ward has tossed her hat into the ring. The polling is very, very early and anything can happen, but she’s 14 points ahead of Flake in the latest round of polling. Granted, the pollsters familiar with the volatile nature of Arizona politics noted that former Gov. Jan Brewer has been able to close the gap on such deficits, so watch out—though given Flake’s weaknesses, it’s also a sign for Democrats that maybe they should get serious about investing seriously in the state’s 2018 senate race. Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) is a potential top recruit. Another Republican challenging Flake is a Phoenix-based pharmacist and political newcomer Nicholas Tutora.