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Former Arizona AG Grant Woods rules out 2020 US Senate run

PHOENIX — After months of weighing a potential run for U.S. Senate, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods announced Friday that he would not pursue a congressional bid next year.

In an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes, Woods said he would not seek election as a Democrat in 2020.

“In this stage of my life, my ambition is not to be United States senator,” Woods said. “My ambition is to serve my country, to serve my state and to get people who don’t respect basic values like Donald Trump out of office.”

Woods said his motivation to weigh a Senate run was to unseat Republican Sen. Martha McSally, whom he referred to as an enabler of President Donald Trump.

“Here’s the crisis: Donald Trump is president and every day he proves he is unfit for president,” Woods said on the Friday show.

“No. 2 goal is we have to get rid of the Trump enablers, and Martha McSally is one of them,” he added.

While Woods said he was willing to “fight the fight to displace Martha McSally and work against the other Trump enablers to get them out of office,” he believed he would not be an effective candidate in a Democratic race that is expected to be competitive.

“The Democrats are not the problem. Right now, the problem is Trump and McSally and I don’t really want to spend 18 months trying to prove something that’s not true,” he said. “And that is that I’m liberal enough for the far-left wing of the Democratic party.”

The Arizona Democrats who are still rumored to run include U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego and Mark Kelly, the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

A source close to Gallego told KTAR News last month that the lawmaker is “very interested” in running for Senate. McSally is also expected to run for re-election in 2020 but has not yet launched a campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Valley political analyst Stan Barnes told KTAR News that Woods’ decision has removed “one of the big question marks for Democrats.

“After all, Grant is a former Republican attorney general and a man of high profile and ability, he could raise a lot of money, he was John McCain’s dear friend, so he brought a lot to the table as someone who could reach both sides of the aisle,” Barnes said.

“The fact that he’s not doing that clears the field for someone that can play a different role.”

Woods first announced that he was weighing a bid in September, shortly after his longtime friend and former boss John McCain died following a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

“I think it would be great. I think it’s a great job. It’s the one job that I’ve always thought was, ‘You could really serve your country,’” Woods told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes at the time.

Woods, who was a registered Republican during his time as attorney general and McCain’s chief of staff, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Think Tank in November that he registered as a Democrat, citing his frustration with President Donald Trump as a reason for the switch.

“I’ve fought these fights my whole life and I’ve been willing to fight those fights within the Republican party, but now I’ve left the Republican party and joined the Democratic party,” he said at the time.

The next month, Woods told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes that Republican McSally’s appointment to the Senate made his run a lot more likely “because… I’m not a big fan of (McSally’s) and how she conducted this last election.”

Woods endorsed McSally’s opponent, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, in her bid for Jeff Flake’s former seat. Sinema was elected in November, but McSally was appointed the next month after Jon Kyl stepped down from McCain’s seat.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report. 

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