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Arpaio on Senate Run: 'The President Needs Me'

Controversial ex-sheriff of Maricopa County announces his bid for seat to be vacated by Flake
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2018 11:02 AM CST

(Newser) – Arizona's most high-profile former sheriff had said he was mulling a Senate run, and it now looks like he's made up his mind. "I think Washington needs me, the president needs me," Joe Arpaio told Talking Points Memo on Tuesday, confirming he'll enter the race. "I've got a lot of experience … [and have] dedicated my life [to] serving our country. We'll see what happens." Arpaio told TPM he didn't clear his news with President Trump before he announced his decision, which was first reported in the Washington Examiner Tuesday morning. The 85-year-old, controversial for a sheriff's stint in Maricopa County that was blasted for his harsh tactics in dealing with immigrants and "unorthodox policing methods," will be vying in the state's GOP primary in August for the seat of retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.

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Arpaio, who was pardoned by Trump in August for ignoring a judge's order in a racial-profiling case, said he's not worried about his age, or about Democrats jumping on his past to pry open more of an opening for the Senate seat in the midterms. He'll face off in the GOP primary against ex-state Sen. Kelli Ward, and probably also Rep. Martha McSally, considered a GOP establishment favorite who's expected to announce her own bid soon. Arpaio is optimistic about his chances. "I've never lost a Republican primary in my political career," he tells TPM. "I don't expect to lose this one, either." (Read more Joe Arpaio stories.)

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