Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio announces he will run for Senate

More from this show

The Arizona Senate race gains a new competitor after former Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced on Tuesday via Twitter that he’s running.

The announcement has come under fire from both parties who are wary if the 85-year-old pardoned felon is serious. In an interview with CNN Senator Jeff Flake, who currently holds the seat,  says Arpaio is “not our best foot forward as Republicans.”

Whether he is serious or not, the “big loser” in this is race is Republican Kelli Ward who is also running for Senate, says Arizona Republic columnist Lauri Roberts. Roberts says that Arpaio is most likely “bored to tears” and his distaste for being told no has driven him to run.

Jaime Molera of Molera Alvarez, doesn’t believe the ex-sheriff can win, but he won’t be an easy opponent to beat. He is knowledgeable in fundraising and has credible campaign consultants, says Molera. Even if Arpaio doesn’t win, Molera says, he will “pull a big chuck of votes away from Kelli Ward.”

Who wins the seat may come down to President Donald Trump, Roberts says. His endorsement “is going to essentially decide” the outcome of the race, she says.

It wasn’t that long ago that Arpaio was looking at jail time for criminal contempt before Trump pardoned him. As to whether his criminal record may be a mark against him in his campaign, Roberts doesn’t think so. She says “many republicans see him as a hero.”

Molera says the Republican Party will be depleted as a result of choosing between Arpaio and Ward. The winner of this may be one of the two Democrats running for the seat which includes Congresswomen Kyrsten Sinema.

Congresswoman Martha McSally is also expected to announce a run for Flake’s seat. Both Molera and Roberts think and Arpaio run will actually help the more moderate republican McSally.

TED SIMONS: COMING UP, NEXT ON ARIZONA HORIZON FORMERMER MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO TWEETS THAT HE IS RUNNING FOR JEFF FLAKE'S U.S. SENATE SEAT TO DISCUSS THE VIABILITY OF ARPAIOS CANDIDANCY AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERS OF THE LEGISLATURE REACT TO THE GOVERNOR STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS. THESE STORIES NEXT ON ARIZONA HORIZON.

VIDEO: ARIZONA HORIZON IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO ARIZONA HORIZON I'M TED SIMONS AND FORMER MARICOPA SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO SAYS HE’S RUNNING FOR JEFF FLAKE'S U.S. SENATE SEAT ARPAIO MADE THE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY WITH A TWEET THAT READS QUOTE, I AM RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE FROM THE GREAT STATE OF ARIZONA FOR ONE UNWAVERING REASON TO SUPPORT THE AGENDA AND POLICIES OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND HIS MISSION TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT. ARPAIO IS 85 YEARS OLD, HE LOST HIS REELECTION BID FOR SHERIFF LAST FALL AFTER BEING CONVICTED FOR CRIMINAL CONTEMPT AND ARPAIO WAS LATER PARDONENED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP. ARPAIO’S ANNOUNCMENT TODAY DID NOT IMPRESS THE MAN WHO CURRENTLY HOLDS THAT U.S. SENATE SEAT.

VIDEO: THERE IS HARDLY BEEN AN ELECTION CYCLE YOU KNOW FROM THE EARLY 90s THAT SHERIFF JOE HASN'T TALKED ABOUT RUNNING STATEWIDE AND HE FLOATS IT OUT THERE FOR A WHILE AND THEN PULLS BACK AND SO I DON'T EXPECT IT WILL GO VERY FAR.

VIDEO: WOULD YOU SUPPORT HIM?

VIDEO: NO, NO, NOT AT ALL. THAT IS THE LAST THAT IS NOT OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD AS REPUBLICANS.

TED SIMONS: SENATOR FLAKE APPEARING ON CNN DEMOCRAT KRYSTEN SINEMA ALSO RUNNING FOR FLAKE’S SEAT WAS EQUALLY UNIMPRESSED IN A TWEET TODAY THAT READS, QUOTE. ARIZONA DESERVE LEADERS WHO WORK TOGETHER TO SOLVE OUR COUNTRY'S GREATEST CHALLENGES AND JOE ARPAIO IS NOT THAT PERSON TOGETHER WE WILL DEFEAT SHERIFF JOE’S DANGEROUS ACTIONS AND TIRED RHETORIC. SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO A SENATE RACE THAT ALREADY INCLUDES SINEMA, TEA PARTY FAVORITE KELLI WARD AND THE LIKELY CANDIDACY OF A CURRENT CONGRESS WOMEN MARGARET McSally AND HERE TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL IS POLITICAL CONSULTANT JAIME MOLERA A PARTNER IN MOLERA ALVAREZ AND ALSO WITH US IS ARIZONA REPUBLICAN COLUMNIST LAURIE ROBERTS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE, THANKS FOR JOINING US. ALRIGHT JAIME MAKE SENSE OF ALL THIS WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON OUT THERE.

JAIME MOLERA: WELL THIS IS A GREAT TUESDAY I GUESS IN ARIZONA BUT IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY THIS IS SOMETHING WHENE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE DEFINITELY KELLI WARD DR. KELLI WARD WAS VERY UPSET ABOUT JOE'S ENTERING THE RACE. IT’S BASICALLY A GUY THAT’S GETTING INTO THE SAME BASE SHE IS TRYING TO CAPTURE. I THINK MARTHA McSally WAS VERY HAPPY AND KRYSTEN SINEMA WAS UNHAPPY BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY, I’M UNDER THE OPINION WHEN YOU HAVE THE FISCHER IN THE HARD REPUBLICAN BASE KELLI WARD WAS TRYING TO CAPTURE THAT GIVES A GOOD OPPORTUNITY FOR McSally TO CAPTURE THE NOMINATION A MUCH BETTER OPPORTUNITY I SHOULD SAY FOR THE NOMINATION AND IF SHE GETS HEAD TO HEAD WITH KRYSTEN THE REPUBLICANS CHANCES GO WAY UP TO TRY TO KEEP THAT SEAT.

TED SIMONS: WARD AND SINEMA THE LOSERS IN TODAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT.

LAURIE ROBERTS: WARD IS THE BIG LOSER IN THE THING FOR THE REASONS THAT JAIME TALKS ABOUT AND SINEMA I WOULD NOT CHARACTERIZE HER AS A LOSER I HEAR THE CHAMPAIGN CORKES WERE POPPING OVER THERE. EITHER YOU’RE GING TO HAVE A BRUISING REPUBLICAN PRIMARY IN WHICH JOE ARPAIO IS THE CENTRAL FEATURE AND LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY AND LOTS OF VICTORY WILL BE SPREAD WHICH DOES NOT MAKE THE REPUBLICANS LOOK GOOD OR YOU WILL HAVE MARTHA McSally EEK IT OUT IN WHICH CASE IT WOULD NOT BE GOOD NEWS THING FOR HER BUT REGARDLESS THEY ARE GOING TO BE DEPLETED AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS GOING TO HAVE A BIG BLACK EYE SO I THINK POTENTIALLY YOU ARE RIGHT IT COULD BE THAT McSally IS THE WINNER BUT COULD ALSO BE SINEMA.

TED SIMONS: BUT IS ARPAIO SERIOUS THIS TIME? I MEAN WE DIDN'T HEAR JEFF FLAKE SAYING BUT HE BASICALLY SAID REPORT ON THIS QUICKLY BECAUSE IT'S NOT GOING TO LAST VERY LONG, IS THIS ONE OF THESE THINGS WHERE JUST PAY ATTENTION TO ME FOR A WHILE AND THEN HE IS GOING TO BACK OUT?

JAIME MOLERA: POSSIBLY BUT THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT MAKE HIM A REAL CANDIDATE ONE IS THE FUNDRAISING AND LET'S FACE IT THAT IS ONE THING JOE HAS BEEN GOOD AT IS BE ABLE TO RAISE MONEY NOT JUST ARIZONA BUT MOST OF HIS MONEY COMES NATIONALLY AND THAT IS THE SPIKOTS ARE TURNED ON AND HE’S ALWAYS HAD CREDIBLE CAMPAIGNS CONSULTANTS THAT LIKE HIM OR NOT, HIS CAMPAIGNS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROFESSIONAL AND SOMETHING TO BE FEARED IF YOU ARE RUNNING AGAINST HIM.

TED SIMONS: NO KIDDING HE HAS NEVER LOST A REPUBLICAN PRIMARY EVER.

LAURIE ROBERTS: NO.
TED SIMONS: WHY THIS LAURIE WHY THIS AND WHY NOW?

LAURIE ROBERTS: I THINK FOR TWO REASONS FOR ONE THING HE IS NO LONGER EMPLOYED HE IS NO LONGER IN THE NEWS, HE IS NO LONGER HAS A JOB AND THOUGH HE IS 85 YEARS OLD HE PROBABLY IS BORED TO TEARS SITTING AT HOME WITH AVA NUMBER ONE AND NUMBER TWO I THINK HE DOESN'T LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE TELL HIM NO AND EVERYBODY HAS SAID YOU ARE 85 YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY RUN AGAIN, YOU WON'T RUN AND HE DOESN'T LIKE TO BE TOLD NO AND SO HE IS PROBABLY THINKING I'LL GET THAT DONALD TRUMP ENDORSEMENT AND SKATE MY WAY IN THE SENATE I DON'T THINK IT WILL BE THAT EASY.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU THINK IT'S SERIOUS AND DO YOU THINK HE IS IN IT FOR THE LONG HALL, IF THE POLLS SHOW HIM IN SINGLE DIGITS IT'S CRAZY AND SAY HE IS THIRD IN THE FIELD OF THREE AS FAR AS REPUBLICANS ARE CONCERNED WILL HE HANG IN THERE?

LAURIE ROBERTS: I THINK THAT HE WILL IF HIS HEALTH ALLOWS IT REMEMBER WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A GUY THIS SUMMER IN THE HEAT OF THE CAMPAIGN WILL BE 86 YEARS OLD DOES HE HAVE THE STAMINA TO DO THAT. THEN AGAIN DOES HE NEED THE STAMINA TO DO IT HE HAS 100% NAME ID AND EVERYBODY KNOWS JOE ON HAS AN OPINION ABOUT JOE PROBABLY DOESN'T NEED TO BE OUT THERE A LOT AND A TON OF MONEY AND IF HE CAN GET THE DONALD TRUMP ENDORSEMENT BAR THE DOOR IT'S GOING TO BE CRAZY.

TED SIMONS: THIS IS STILL A CANDIDATE THAT COULDN'T EVEN WIN MARICOPA COUNTY.

JAIME MOLERA: CORRECT.

TED SIMONS: I MEAN THIS IS THE SAME GUY HERE.

JAIME MOLERA: ABSOLUTELY.

TED SIMONS: ANYTHING CHANGE BETWEEN THEN AND NOW?

JAIME MOLERA: I DON’T THINK SO AND THAT’S WHY I GO BACK TO HOW IT EFFECTS THE OTHER CANDIDATES IN THIS RACE I DO NOT BELIEVE HE CAN WIN ULTIMATELY CERTAINLY IN THE GENERAL ELECTION I DON'T THINK HE CAN WIN IN THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY HOWEVER HE CAN PULL BIG CHUNK OF VOTES AWAY FROM KELLI WARD. KELLI WARD HAS A 91 LATEST TWO POLLS ARE THE SAME 91% NAME ID WITH REPUBLICAN VOTERS 91% SO SHE IS KNOWN BUT SHE ALSO HAS ABOUT A 52, 55% APPROVAL RATING BY THOSE REPUBLICANS NOW THESE ARE THE HARD CORE REPUBLICAN VOTERS THAT LIKE DONALD TRUMP THAT PUT HIM OVER THE TOP IN ARIZONA IF JOE CAPTURES LET'S SAY HALF OF THAT THAT MEANS MARTHA McSALLY HAS A VERY GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO THEN MOVE INTO THAT SPACE AND GET THE NOMINATION.

TED SIMONS: GOING BACK TO WHAT LAURIE WAS REFERRING TO HERE IF HE STAYS IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL AND HE AND KELLI WARD TEAM UP AND BATTER. McSALLY SHE CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT SHE IS THIS THAT AND THE OTHER DO THE TRUE BELIEVERS IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THAT ARE THE WARD ARPAIO FANS DO THEY STAY HOME ARE THEY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT AN McSALLY CANDIDACY IF SHE WINS THE PRIMARY? 19:37:39

JAIME MOLERA: THAT IS THE CHALLENGE McSALLY HAS. MCSALLY DOESN'T HAVE AN EASY ROAD TO GET TO NOMINATION. GRANTED I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A TOUGH FIGHT BUT WITH MORE OF WHAT I CALL THE EXTREME REPUBLICAN BASE GETTING INTO THIS I THINK THAT HURTS OR EXCUSE ME HELPS HER CHANCE TO ULTIMATELY CAPTURE THE NOMINATION. WHERE SHE HAS TO BE CAREFUL IS IF SHE GOES TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT TO PLACATE THAT EXTREME ELEMENT THAT IS WHAT KRISTIN WOULD USE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION TO TRY AND BEAT HER.

LAURIE ROBERTS: I THINK THIS IS A RACE WHERE DONALD TRUMP ENDORSEMENT IS GOING TO ESSENTIALLY DECIDE THE THING. IF DONALD TRUMP GETS BEHIND PUTS HIS ENDORSEMENT ON TOP OF THIS PARDON AND JOE ARPAIO CAN TAKE THAT AROUND THE STATE I DON'T SEE HOW KELLI WARD SUPPORTERS OR KELLI WARD CAN STAY IN THE RACE AND GIVEN WHAT THEY SAID THE WHOLE THING IS TO BACK UP DONALD TRUMP THEY WOULD HAVE TO GET BEHIND DONALD TRUMP CANDIDACY.

TED SIMONS: DOES ARPAIO HAVE A CAMPAIGN STAFF DOES HE HAVE A HEADQUARTERS ANYTHING GOING?

LAURIE ROBERTS: HE CERTAINLY HAS FUNDRAISING E-MAIL OUT.

TED SIMONS: THEY ARE ALREADY OUT THERE.

LAURIE ROBERTS: THEY ARE ALREADY OUT THERE IN FACT SO ARE THE DEMOCRATS ALREADY OUT THERE WITH FUNDRAISERS ORGANIZING AGAINST THE POSSIBILITY OF RUNNING AGAINST ARPAIO.

TED SIMONS: FROM THE REPUBLICAN SIDE A REPUBLICAN MINDS. THE REPUBLICANS IN GENERAL TALK TO US PLEASE WHAT IS THE THOUGHT BEHIND ALL THIS? IS THIS OH, GOOD GRACIOUS IS THIS HALLELUJAH IS THERE SOMETHING IN BETWEEN?

JAIME MOLERA: I THINK FROM WHAT A LOT OF THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP IN THIS STATE WHETHER IT'S THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIRS THEY CERTAINLY ARE NOT GOING TO MISS THIS BUT I THINK THEY ARE VERY HAPPY NOW THAT YOU HAVE JOE ARPAIO JUMPING IN THE RACE AGAIN MINIMIZING WHAT KELLI WARD CAN DO I THINK THEY SEE MARTHA McSally AS PROBABLY THE STRONGEST CANDIDATE I MEAN IF YOU LOOK AT HER BACK STORY WITHOUT KNOWING MARTHA McSally. AS A FEMALE FIGHTER PILOT, COLONEL IN OUR MILITARY, SHE HAS A GREAT STORY AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT THEY WOULD LOVE TO SEE HER BE THE PERSON THAT RUNS AGAINST AGAIN A VERY STRONG ABLE CHRISTIAN SINEMA THAT IS GOING TO BE FORE MIDABLE IN NOVEMBER AND McSally CAN CHALLENGE IT.

LAURIE ROBERTS: IT'S CLEAR THE DEMOCRATS ARE MOST AFRAID OF MARTHA McSally BECAUSE THEY ARE FOCUSED 100% ON CRITICIZING HER. THEY DON'T EVEN MENTION WARD, I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED BUT IF THEY ARE NOT SENDING WARD MONEY BUT AGAIN I THINK THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING, I THINK IT BECOMES BASICALLY A JOE ARPAIO MARTHA McSally RACE AND IF DONALD TRUMP WEIGHS IN. LOOK OUT.

TED SIMONS: AND I DIDN'T EVEN WIN MARICOPA COUNTY COULD HE STILL BE VIABLE HERE AND I'M ASKING YOU THIS IS A PARDONED FELON.

JAIME MOLERA: UH-HUH.

LAURIE ROBERTS: NO, MISDEMEANOR.

TED SIMONS: WELL HE HAS BEEN PARDONED CRIMINAL PARDONED CRIMINAL CONTEMPT CHARGE CONVICTION.

LAURIE ROBERTS: UH-HUH.

TED SIMONS: REPUBLICANS GOING TO VOTE FOR THIS? THEY ARE GOING TO GO FOR THIS?

LAURIE ROBERTS: YEAH A LOT OF THEM THINK HE IS A HERO THAT IT WAS ACTIVIST JUDGE THAT PUT HIM IN THIS PREDICAMENT ABSOLUTELY, ABSOLUTELY.

JAIME MOLERA: TO QUOTE JEFF FLAKE NO NO NO NO NO. [LAUGHTER]

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT I GUESS WE WILL STOP IT RIGHT THERE, GOOD TO SEE YOU BOTH HERE THANK YOU FOR JOINING US WE APPRECIATE IT COMING UP, ON ARIZONA HORIZON STATE DEMOCRATIC LEADERS OF THE LEGISLATURE GIVE THEIR TAKE ON THE GOVERNOR'S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS.

Jaime Molera: Co-Founder and Partner, Molera Alvarez
Laurie Roberts: Metro columnist, The Arizona Republic

A graphic for the Arizona PBS news show,
airs April 27

New and local

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: