Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio led a field of potential Republican Senate candidates in Arizona with 21 percent in a poll of likely GOP primary voters last week.
Rep. Jeff Flake, who announced his candidacy for the seat of retiring Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on Monday, finished second with 16.8 percent in the Summit Consulting Group survey. Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth took third, with 16.6 percent. He was unsuccessful in his primary challenge to Sen. John McCain last year.
The auto-dial poll of 1,881 likely GOP primary voters was conducted Thursday. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points, which would put the top three finishers in a statistical tie.
Coming in fourth was former Rep. John Shadegg at 12 percent, followed by freshman Rep. Ben Quayle at 6 percent. A significant percentage of respondents, 27.5 percent, were undecided.
Arpaio has made national headlines over the years for his tough stance on crime and illegal immigration. It was unclear how much interest he has in running for Senate versus running for re-election as sheriff, but he is being urged by his supporters to pursue the Congressional seat, according to a GOP strategist in Arizona.
Summit disclosed in its polling memo that it is running Arpaio’s re-election campaign for sheriff, that it has previously worked for Flake and that a principal of the firm once advised Hayworth.
Summit conducted a second auto-dial poll Thursday of 1,469 likely Republican primary voters that did not test Arpaio or Quayle. Flake led with 22 percent, followed by Hayworth at 20 percent and Shadegg at 17 percent. It also had a margin of error of 3 points.
A whopping 41 percent were undecided in the second poll, which Summit said was not surprising, given that the survey was conducted so soon after Kyl announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election in 2012.
Both surveys were compiled with data from voters who said they had participated in the past two GOP primary elections, according to the memo.