Over the past couple of days, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's future has shifted from one focused on court appeals and potential prison time to one of book deals and potentially even a Senate run. According to an interview this morning with the Washington Examiner, Arpaio is considering a variety of future job options including a run for mayor, Arizona's state legislature or maybe even a U.S. Senate run against Jeff Flake.
The former Maricopa County sheriff told the Washington Examiner he's upset at negative reaction to the Friday pardon, and that he feels Republican politicians are insufficiently supportive of the president, who he calls a great man.
"I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate," Arpaio said Monday. One particular race, however, is likely to gain significant attention: the GOP primary next year facing Flake, R-Ariz., a forceful Trump critic.
"I'm sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me" to challenge Flake, said Arpaio, who served 24 years as sheriff before losing reelection in 2016. "All I'm saying is the door is open and we'll see what happens. I've got support. I know what support I have."
Arpaio said he swore off another candidacy in January, when he left office, but that "with what I've seen happening in recent months, especially what's happening with our president, I said, 'Hey, why not?'"
Of course, it's hardly a surprise that there is no love lost between the President and Senator Flake after Trump has recently described him as "toxic" and "weak on crime and the border."
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
Phoenix crowd last night was amazing - a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2017
And clearly Flake is likewise not a 'yuge' fan of Trump after suggesting last week that he is "inviting a 2020 primary challenger" (see: Flake Fires Back: Trump Is "Inviting" A 2020 Republican Primary Challenger).
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that President Trump is "inviting" a presidential primary challenge in 2020 because he's paying too much attention to appeasing his base.
Flake, whose public attacks on Trump could provoke the president to back a primary challenger against him, made the comments Tuesday during an interview with Georgia Public Broadcasting when asked if Trump will face a primary challenge.
"I don't know, I think that certainly depends on him. I think he could govern in a way that he wouldn't," Flake said.
"But, I think that the way that, the direction he's headed right now, just kinda drilling down on the base rather than trying to expand the base, I think he's inviting one."
Not surprisingly, Flake joined Senator McCain over the weekend in describing Trump's pardon of Arpaio as an exercise in lawlessness.
Regarding the Arpaio pardon, I would have preferred that the President honor the judicial process and let it take its course.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 26, 2017
Meanwhile, in anticipation of a future run, Arpaio has already laid the groundwork for a new protest movement: Senior Citizen Discrimination.
"Why do you say ‘wow'?" he admonished, adding: "They just say Sheriff Joe Arpaio comma 85 years old. Why do they always say that?"
Arpaio said he believes "there is discrimination against senior citizens, big time" and that "I'm proud to be my age. I work 14 hours a day. If anyone thinks my age is going to hold me back, I've got news for them."
"The bottom line is there's no way I'm going to go fishing. I have no hobbies," he said, declining to say how likely he is to seek office.
And, just like that, Jeff Flake's re-election bid looks even more difficult than it was last week.