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 McSallyWhite House makes push for paid family leave and child care reform The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.

Woods, who served as the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? 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 SchumerSenate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge, despite 'not qualified' rating Democrats challenge South Carolina law requiring voters to disclose Social Security numbers Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers 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 PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina 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 TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day 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 GallegoTrump officials defend use of fake university to lure foreign students ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Lawmakers press for ICE reforms after fake school report 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.