Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was spared a possible jail sentence a year ago when his political ally President Donald Trump pardoned his criminal conviction for disobeying a judge's order, announced Tuesday he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Jeff Flake.
Arpaio's entrance in the race could complicate things for former state Sen.
"Sheriff Joe has been a patriot, but at the end of the day in terms of running for this election, Kelli Ward is going to be hard to beat", said Eric Beach, a political strategist for Ward's campaign.
Arpaio, who served 24 years as metro Phoenix's sheriff before suffering a crushing 2016 defeat by an little-known Phoenix police sergeant, would face former state Sen.
Arpaio tweeted Tuesday he is seeking the post to support Trump's agenda "in his mission to Make America Great Again".
McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, reportedly told her House colleagues in November that she'd run for Senate in Arizona.
Arpaio, who has frequently talked about seeking higher office, said he chose to run as a "big supporter of President Trump" who would back the president wholeheartedly.
Arpaio said in December that he was 'seriously, seriously, seriously considering running'. McSally is more closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who listed her as a top recruit.
Not many of Arpaio's specific policy ideas are known at this point, given the early stage of the campaign.
"It really does seem as if people do not quite appreciate just how evil Joe Arpaio truly is".
As I wrote at the time: "In pardoning Arpaio, Trump has given a free pass to an unrepentant and habitual abuser of authority, a man with insufficient regard for the Constitution he swore to uphold or the separation of powers it enshrines".
"Every Democratic voter should give a dollar to Arpaio's primary campaign because nobody energizes Latino voters nationally better than Joe Arpaio", said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez of IL, a retiring Democrat who is considering a 2020 presidential run.
Arpaio's entry into the Senate race prompted immediate criticism from Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, who released a statement saying, "Joe Arpaio is one of our nation's most notorious agents of racism and bigotry".