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 McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Trump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.

Woods, who served as the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCummings to lie in state at the Capitol Elizabeth Warren should concern Donald Trump 'bigly' Lawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show 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 SchumerTurkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria Schumer calls for FDA to probe reports of contaminated baby food How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoLawmakers argue for national Latino museum Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Buttigieg plans sharper distinctions with Warren, Sanders 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 PelosiTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Trump lashes out at Pelosi as she visits Jordan to discuss Syria Thomas D'Alesandro III, brother of Nancy Pelosi, dies at 90 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 TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' 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 GallegoOvernight Energy: Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest| Democrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records| Trump's plan to boost ethanol miffs corn groups and the fossil fuel industry Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft 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.