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 McSallyArmy calls base housing hazards 'unconscionable,' details steps to protect families Poll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.

Woods, who served as the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers wait for Trump's next move on border deal 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SchumerNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSchumer urging ex-congressional candidate Amy McGrath to run against McConnell Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona Former McCain chief of staff says he will not run for Senate in Arizona in 2020 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 PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks 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 TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job 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 GallegoDem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Poll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly launches Senate bid in Arizona 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.