Joe Arpaio claims that the campaign manager for his rival Kelli Ward tried to cajole him out of the race for the GOP Senate nomination in Arizona by offering up a lucrative speaking contract with a pro-Trump PAC, according to a Tuesday Arizona Republic report.
A spokesperson for Ward’s campaign has denied Arpaio’s account, telling the Arizona Republic that “no such offer was made.”
Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County, says that Shawn Dow, campaign manager for Ward, approached him privately twice in May to float that he leave the three-way Republican primary battle for greener pastures at the pro-Trump Great America PAC, which has ties to Ward.
Chad Willems, Arpaio’s campaign manager, reportedly contacted the Great America PAC to determine the veracity of the offer. An unnamed official at the PAC said that he is unaware of the proposition. The PAC declined an interview with the Arizona Republic.
Arpaio and Ward share similar hard-line conservative views on immigration and staunch support of President Donald Trump. As the Arizona Republic suggests, the two candidates could be splitting the far right vote, boosting third candidate U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s chances.
Arpaio was pardoned by President Trump in August 2017 for his criminal contempt conviction, which stemmed from a racial profiling lawsuit filed during his tenure as sheriff.
The primaries will be held on August 28, when both parties will put forth a candidate to battle for retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) seat.