Phoenix, AZ – Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he is considering an Arizona Senate campaign following Sen. Jeff Flake’s decision to not seek re-election.
“I am seriously, seriously, seriously considering running for the U.S. Senate,” Arpaio, 85, told the Daily Beast on Thursday.
According to the Washington Examiner, Arpaio said he recently met with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon on two occasions, but that they did not discuss Arpaio’s possible Senate bid.
“I did tell him that my heart is for Donald Trump and always will be,” Arpaio said. “Anything he needs or wants, I will do. So we’ll have to see what his position is. It’s an open seat now.”
Some speculated that the Arizona lawman might have been eyeing a different seat – that of Rep. Trent Franks in the House of Representatives.
Franks announced on Thursday that he intended to resign his position after the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation to determine whether or not Franks “engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment,” the Daily Beast reported.
The investigation was ignited following reports that Franks had asked two female staffers to consider serving as gestational surrogates to help him and his wife to have a baby.
During his six-term tenure as sheriff, Sheriff Arpaio became well-known for his tough stance on illegal immigration, and coined himself as the “Toughest Sheriff in America.”
In 1994, the no-nonsense sheriff implemented Tent City – an outdoor jail built with surplus Korean War military tents – to house some of Maricopa County’s convicted inmates, the Washington Examiner reported.
Prisoners who arrived at the facility quickly found themselves surrounded by the color pink – pink underwear, pink sheets and towels – even pink handcuffs.
“Why give them a color they like?” Arpaio asked the Washington Examiner at the time.
Arpaio reinstated chain gangs in the mid-1990s, pushed for public display of all mugshots online, and served inmates no-frills meals during their jail stays, CNN reported.
Critics accosted him for “shaming” the prisoners, and for exposing them to extreme temperatures in Tent City.
In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt after he refused to comply with a 2011 court order to stop traffic patrols that “targeted” illegal immigrants, Fox News reported.
He was pardoned by President Trump in August, and the court dismissed the case against him in October.
“Don’t think I’m going fishing,” Arpaio told The Mercury News. “I am not going away.”
According to ABC News, Arpaio said he has not spoken with President Trump about his possible Senate campaign, but noted, “If I run, I’m running for him.”
Arpaio said he will announce his final decision in January.