Controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, fresh off of a pardon by President Trump last week, is floating a primary bid against Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-Ariz.) that would complicate Flake’s path to reelection.
“I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” Arpaio told the Washington Examiner on Monday.
He added that “a lot of people around the state” are asking him to primary Flake, who is being battered by the right for his repeated criticisms of Trump.
Arpaio’s apparent interest in the Arizona primary comes as Trump continues to encourage potential challenges to Flake.
He recently tweeted in support of former State Sen. Kelli Ward (R), who jumped into the 2018 primary before the 2016 race even ended. And Trump’s administration continues to speak to potential challengers, most recently meeting with a group backstage at his rally in Phoenix last week.
Arpaio has been a vocal supporter of Trump. The pardon freed Arpaio from serving jail time over a criminal contempt ruling after he was charged with ignoring a court order in a racial profiling case.
That pardon led to an outcry from Democrats and some Republicans, criticism that Arpaio told the Examiner frustrated him. Flake offered some criticism of the pardon on Twitter.
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
The sheriff’s proximity to Trump would add even more intrigue to the race if he ran, raising questions as to whether Trump would decide to back his primary bid. Arpaio told the Examiner that the two have not spoken this year.
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