Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Monday that “the door is open” for him to run for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl in 2012, reports The Hill.
“The door is open right now but as I said, I’m campaigning for sheriff and raising that money,” Arpaio said, then referred once more to a potential Senate bid. “I think I could do that job.”
Having served as sheriff for five terms, Arpaio is currently running for a sixth. Arpaio added that the determining factor in whether he’d run for Senate would be if he’d want to step down as sheriff.
“The issue is whether I want to leave this office and go to Washington and try to make a difference there, which I would do if I run and win,” Arpaio said.
Arpaio made these comments in the aftermath of a Monday poll conducted by the Summit Consulting Group Inc., which is fundraising for his sheriff reelection campaign. The poll revealed that Arpaio led other possible Republican candidates for the Senate seat.
The poll reported 21 percent of likely GOP voters would vote for Arpaio, 17 percent would chose Rep. Jeff Flake, 16.6 percent would pick former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, 12 percent favored Rep. John Shadegg, and 6 percent would vote for freshman Rep. Ben Quayle.
After seeing these results, Arpaio was “blown away,” the poll’s press release said.
“Some may find this hard to believe, but based on these numbers, I’m simply speechless. But I will say that I’m honored and humbled by the outpouring of support. It means a lot to me and that’s putting it lightly,” Arpaio said.
Arpaio, who has called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” has been the subject of major media criticism for his treatment of prisoners. A no-nonsense sheriff, Arpaio reportedly has fed inmates spoiled food, made them wear pink underwear, housed them in surplus Army tents behind barbed wire in the desert, and made them work on chain gangs. Arpaio is also a strong anti-illegal immigration advocate.