PHOENIX /January 9, 2018 (AP)(STL.News) — Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s announcement that he’ll run for the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Jeff Flake potentially pits two conservative, pro-Donald Trump candidates against each other and could create an opening for a more moderate GOP contender to take the seat.
Arpaio made the announcement Tuesday, injecting new uncertainty and attention into the race that’s already among the year’s most-watched.
If Arpaio follows through and files his candidacy papers, the race could feature one of President Trump’s most vocal supporters trying to replace one of his fiercest detractors. Flake has constantly criticized the president.
Until now, the Republican front-runner in the race has largely been considered to be Kelli Ward, a former state senator. Arpaio’s entry could hurt her chances.
Zachery Henry, a Ward spokesman, said members of the campaign don’t believe Arpaio would split the GOP vote to the detriment of Ward.