Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff beloved by immigration hardliners who was pardoned of criminal contempt charges by President Donald Trump previous year, announced Tuesday he will run for U.S. Senate in Arizona.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who announced he won't seek re-election, dismissed Arpaio's candidacy.
"And yeah, there is a lot of people that do not want me to go to Washington, including a few Republicans". "I'm going to have to work hard; you don't take anything for granted".
"I think I can make a difference".
"What ego? You guys forgot me the day I left office anyway". But this time, it looks a little more plausible - he's set up a website and changed his profile pictures to an "Arpaio for U.S. Senate" graphic.
For 24 years Arpaio was the sheriff of Maricopa County, where he developed a reputation as a fervent opponent of illegal immigration. "That's just the way it's got to be", said supporter Tim McMann.
Arpaio, 85, made the bid official in an interview with the Washington Examiner. Arpaio has created citizen posses to track down and arrest illegal immigrants, overseen a jail staff that has violently abused inmates (resulting in the death of three prisoners and the paralysis of a fourth), and used law enforcement resources to harass and intimidate his political opponents.
And now, with Trump friend and criminal racist Joe Arpaio running for office, Arizona may join the stampede trampling all over Republican dreams. "I have a soft spot for the Mexican community having lived there", Arpaio said.
Another far-right candidate is also seeking the nomination - the anti-trans, anti-immigrant Kelli Ward, who has ties to Steve Bannon and the Mercer family of conservative megadonors.
As the Trump administration and Congress negotiate a legislative fix to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Arpaio offered the Examiner his own solution. "The president and I have a good relationship, and that's going to be good for Arizona and for our country".
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".