Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Tuesday on Twitter that he will run for the open Senate seat in his home state.
The 85-year-old said in his online message: “I am running for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Arizona, for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again.”
Arpaio will enter a Republican primary for the seat to be vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.
Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald Trump in summer last year in a case that was the result of his tough immigration enforcement strategies. Arpaio was convicted in July of criminal contempt for violating a federal court order to stop racially profiling Latinos.
The White House statement on the presidential pardon read then: “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”
Arpaio for his part was quick to show his appreciation to Trump that time as he sent a thank you message to Trump over Twitter. He also said that Trump saw his conviction “for what it is: a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!”
Arpaio spent almost 25 years as sheriff and he became quite known for his aggressive treatment of people suspected of being in the country illegally. A number of court rulings have been lodged against his office on alleged civil rights violations.
As early as the start of the 1990s, Arpaio ordered the construction of a tent city for immigration detainees. He said then that it was intended to alleviate overcrowding and to emphasize his aggressive enforcement measures. Liberals, of course, widely criticized him for his policies.
Right after Trump entered the presidential race in 2015, Arpaio invited him to Phoenix to discuss a crackdown on illegal immigration. He was also one of the first to endorse Trump. He did so just before the first votes in the Iowa caucuses in 2016 and frequently spoke out on behalf of Trump’s campaign.
Arpaio is considered as a hero to the right.