Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has announced that he is running for Senate in Arizona, and he has gotten some good news.
The man who called himself “America’s toughest sheriff” has jumped out to a statistical tie for the lead in what is now destined to be a hotly contested race for the spot vacated by the retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
Arpaio has grabbed 29 percent of the vote, according to a poll conducted by ABC15/OHPI.
One of his presumed primary opponents, Rep. Martha McSally, who has not announced that she is running, has 31 percent support, according to the same poll.
Another, former Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward, is close behind at 25 percent.
The poll was conducted among 504 likely Republican voters and has a margin of error of 4.36 percent.
And if President Donald Trump announces his support for Arpaio, his chances of winning become greater.
The poll mirrors initial speculation that Arpaio could edge out Ward and create an opening for McSally, who colleagues have said is planning a Senate run but has not yet made an announcement.
Arpaio takes an even more notable jump when considering hypothetical endorsements that candidates may receive.
In the survey, a Trump endorsement for Arpaio bumps him up to 35% of the vote, while a McSally endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings her to 31%. Ward falls to 13% with a potential endorsement from former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.
The primary to decide nominees will be in August, followed by the general election in November.
Arpaio is a favorite of the president as he campaigned for him during the 2016 presidential race against Hillary Clinton. Both Arpaio and the president are strong supporters of tougher immigration laws. And in 2017, Trump pardoned Arpaio after he was found guilty of not following a judge’s order to stop racially profiling in his county.
Arpaio announced his candidacy in an interview with the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.
“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” he said. “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 every day, anyway.”
“My mother and father came here from Italy, legally of course. I have a soft spot for the Mexican community having lived there,” he added. “I’m not going to get into my personal life, but I will say we have four grandkids and some have a different ethnic and racial background. I don’t say that. I don’t use my grandkids. So, I have a soft spot, but still, I’m going to do my job. You have to do it.”
“Being a U.S. senator is a little different than being the sheriff, because you can do a lot of things in the U.S. Senate, and I have many plans, believe me. It’s tough. It’s a tough decision. But, if you’re going to come across that border, you should be arrested and get the consequences of it,” Arpaio said.
“I am outspoken. I’m looking forward to it. Let them come. They’ll have their political firing squads and bring tons of money here, because they don’t want to lose,” he continued. “I just want to do everything I can to support our president.”
He will get that chance when voters decide who the next senator from Arizona is.