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Arpaio is ‘probable winner’ in race for US senate, political analyst says

FILE--In this June 26, 2017, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, right, leaves U.S. District Court on the first day of his contempt-of-court trial in Phoenix. Arpaio announced Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, that he plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Jeff Flake. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)

LISTEN: Stan Barnes, President of Copper State Consulting Group

PHOENIX — When former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced his run for the seat left vacant by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the political world was taken by storm.

But one Valley political analyst said he believes Arpaio will put up a fight in the race — and could possibly win.

“Arpaio has 100 percent name identification, which is the main advantage in any campaign,” said Stan Barnes with the Phoenix-based Copper State Consulting Group.

“He is also 100 percent in lock step with Trump — put those two things together and, in spite of the controversy and his age for this kind of thing, he’s a serious contender and perhaps even a probable winner.”

Arpaio, 85, has floated a run for higher office for decades, but has never pursued it until now. He served as Maricopa County Sheriff for 24 years, before he was ousted from his position in 2016 by Sheriff Paul Penzone.

Related: A timeline of Joe Arpaio’s career in law enforcement and politics

He will now face former state Sen. Kelli Ward for the Republican seat. U.S. Rep. Martha McSally was also expected to throw her hat into the metaphorical ring after floating the possibility of a Senate campaign for months.

Barnes said Arpaio’s announcement will have a “very serious impact on Arizona politics.”

“It gets complicated real fast,” he said. “Ward will be consumed as a candidate if Arpaio is actually in the race. He’s Mount Everest and she’s the Santans. She won’t be able to hold up, raise money or be heard.”

“This is a fluid environment where anything can happen.”

The former sheriff was found guilty last year of misdemeanor contempt of court for continuing immigration sweeps for more than a year after a judge ordered him to stop.

President Donald Trump pardoned him in August, essentially making him an innocent man.

However, the conviction does not prohibit him from running for U.S. Senate because the United States does not forbid people convicted of a crime from seeking public office.

Flake announced in October that he would not seek re-election, citing the “Trump factor” as the main reason why.

KTAR News’ Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

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