Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Arizona county sheriff who was convicted of defying a federal court order last year and then almost immediately pardoned by President Donald Trump, said Tuesday he is running for Senate.
Arpaio is running for the seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, he told the Washington Examiner, which first reported the news.
Arpaio is 85 years old and served as sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, for 24 years before being defeated for reelection by a Democrat in 2016. He has often teased a possible statewide campaign — raising money for his political committee before ultimately deciding not to run.
“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” Arpaio told the Examiner. “I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not being doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper, I get that everyday, anyway.”
Former state Sen. Kelli Ward — the conservative firebrand who lost to Sen. John McCain in a 2016 primary — is already in the contest on the Republican side, and Rep. Martha McSally is also expected to run. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is running for the Democratic nomination.
Arpaio's harsh stance towards illegal immigrants drew praise from hardliners, but criticism from Democrats and some moderate Republicans. It also earned him the ire of federal courts, which ruled he violated civil rights law. After Arpaio ignored the rulings, he was convicted of contempt of court in July 2017. One month later, Trump pardoned him over Flake's opposition.