Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Monday he is open to the possibility of running for the seat of retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) in 2012.
Arpaio, the conservative sheriff famous for his hard-line anti-immigration stances, made the remarks in light of a poll released Monday by Summit Consulting Group Inc., which is fundraising for Arpaio's reelection campaign for sheriff. The company's Chad Willems is Arpaio's campaign manager.
Arpaio said the deciding factor is neither the money, which he said he could raise, nor his ability to do the job. Rather, he said, it's whether he would be willing to leave his job as sheriff.
Arpaio has served as sheriff for five terms and is currently running for a sixth. But, he said, that doesn't mean he won't run for the Senate.
"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 said it was a little early to make a final decision.
"The door is open right now but, as I said, I'm campaigning for sheriff and raising that money,” he said, then referred again to a possible Senate bid. “I think I could do that job."
The poll by the Summit Consulting Group found Arpaio led other possible Republicans candidates for the Senate seat.
The poll reported 21 percent of likely GOP voters would choose Arpaio; 17 percent would vote for Rep. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (R-Ariz.); 16.6 percent favored former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), who challenged Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Bob Dole: A great leader of the 'Greatest Generation' The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE (R-Ariz.) in the 2010 GOP Senate primary; 12 percent would vote for Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and 6 percent would choose freshman Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.).
According to the poll's press release, Arpaio said he was "blown away" by the polling results.
“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, according to the press release.
Read the poll results below: