Former McCain chief of staff says he will not run for Senate in Arizona in 2020

Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods (D) announced on Friday that he will not run for the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP Senate campaign arm hits battleground-state Dems over 'Medicare for All,' Green New Deal Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Trump gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.

Woods, who served as the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era Earth Day founder's daughter: Most Republican leaders believe in climate change in private MORE’s (R) first chief of staff in Congress, recently switched his party affiliation and had been seriously considering a Senate run as a Democrat.

Woods made the announcement during a Friday interview with local radio station KTAR News 92.3, saying he met with media consultants and pollsters about his chances to defeat McSally.

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But he said that given Arizona’s late August primary, he didn’t want to fight against other Democrats in what is expected to be a contested primary.

“I think I can beat her and I think I am the person to beat her. However ... it’s pretty clear there would be a Democratic primary if I run,” Woods told KTAR on Friday. “I’m not interested in running the next 18 months against Democrats.”

Woods had backed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), who went on to defeat McSally in the 2018 midterm election.

Sinema had been introducing Woods in Washington, D.C., and previously met with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoLife in the minority at the FCC Dem senators call for Trump to restore release for pregnant migrants Jury rejects Harry Reid lawsuit against fitness band maker MORE (D-Nev.), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

But as a former Republican, Woods had frustrated some progressives for past comments on a radio show that were critical of now-Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Julián Castro: Trump should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice 'in very concrete ways' Swalwell on impeachment: 'We're on that road' after Mueller report MORE (D-Calif.), according to Yellow Sheet Report, an Arizona political tip sheet.

Woods said he expected other Democrats to run to the left of him, noting that he’s “not too big on either party.”

Instead, Woods said he plans to get involved in the 2020 presidential race to defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE. He said he will endorse a candidate and “be as involved as they’ll let me be.”

With Woods out of the running, retired astronaut Mark Kelly and Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoGallego tapped as national campaign chairman for Swalwell presidential bid Hispanic Caucus asks for meeting with top immigration official Mark Kelly raises eye-popping million in Arizona Senate race MORE (D-Ariz.) are seen as the top Senate challengers for Democrats. Both have also met with Schumer and Cortez Masto.

Arizona is high on Democrats’ priority list, as they seek to take back the Senate in 2020. Republicans hold a 53-seat Senate majority.

McSally was appointed to fill McCain’s seat until the 2020 special election after it had been initially held by former Sen. Jon Kyl (R).

Whoever wins the seat in 2020 will serve out the remainder of McCain's term, which expires in 2022.