It’s too soon to crown anyone Arizona’s next Senator — but on the same day Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced his intent to run, a new poll of Grand Canyon state Republicans shows Sheriff Joe Arpaio leading the field to replace the retiring Sen. Jon Kyl (R).
Arpaio has not announced his intention to run for the open Senate seat next year, though there’s long been speculation that Arpaio — an absolute rockstar among the anti-immigration set in the GOP — is interested in higher office. His name has been mentioned among those that might run for Kyl’s old seat, and it’s certain he’d enter the race with significant financial support from his national allies.
Roll Call’s David Drucker breaks the news that Arpaio’s statewide Republican support would be strong as well. The poll from Summit Consulting Group shows Arpaio with a narrow lead over Flake, who just made his run for Senate official on Monday.
The numbers: Arpaio leads with 21% support, Flake comes in second with 17%. Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R), who briefly gave Sen. John McCain a scare during the 2012 Senate primary, before being crushed by McCain on primary day, came in third with 16.6%.
At the very least, the poll suggests the Republican race to replace Kyl is wide open. Flake is a national name with a sizeable war chest, and no one has begun running in earnest yet. So the numbers could change, and change fast. But for now, it seems the Flake — a darling of the fiscal right — may face the same challenges due to his more moderate stances on immigration that McCain faced.
Should Arpaio decide to run, the poll suggests he could have a shot at being the next right wing insurgent to push aside a more establishment candidate in a Republican primary.
A second version of the poll, conducted without the names of Arpaio and freshman Rep. Ben Quayle (who has said fairly definitively that he’s not running for the seat) showed Flake ahead of Hayworth 22-20.
The Summit Consulting Group poll of 1,881 Republican voters was conducted Feb. 10 by automated telephone call. The margin of error is 3.0%