Former Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio told The Daily Beast Thursday that he is “seriously, seriously, seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate” to replace the retiring Jeff Flake.
The Daily Beast reached out to Arpaio shortly after Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., announced his resignation over discussions with two female staffers about whether they would consider being a surrogate mother.
Arpaio described Franks as “a great man, and a great friend, and it’s a great loss for Arizona and our country.”
In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt for what a judge called “flagrant disregard” of a 2011 court order to stop traffic patrols that targeted illegal immigrants. He was pardoned by President Donald Trump the following month and the case against him was dropped in October.
That same month, Flake announced he would not run for re-election to the Senate. In a fiery speech on the floor of the chamber, Flake criticized Trump and the Republican Party for embracing “anger and resentment.”
Should Arpaio enter the race, he would be joining a crowded Republican primary field that includes Rep. Martha McSally and former state senator Kelli Ward. Ward, who was leading Flake by 26 points in one poll taken before the incumbent chose not to run, is backed by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.