Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb will announce his candidacy for Arizona's U.S. Senate race next week, three sources tell NBC News.
Lamb's entrance could set up a key Republican primary match-up with Kari Lake, the defeated gubernatorial candidate and close ally of Donald Trump who has yet to rule out her own run.
The winner of the GOP nomination would face an anticipated three-way general election matchup with Democrat Ruben Gallego and incumbent Independent Kyrsten Sinema, who has still yet to formally announce her own re-election campaign.
The race is a seen as a prime target to flip a seat for Republicans, who have lost three straight Senate races in the state.
Pinal County covers a vast 5,000 square-mile region between the Phoenix and Tucson corridor. Lamb has remained a vocal critic of President Joe Biden's administration’s handling of the southern border, telling a U.S. House committee in early March that his deputies have seized increasing volumes of fentanyl and encountered greater human-trafficking cartel movements.
Lamb has been a fixture at major campaign events for the Arizona GOP’s statewide candidates as he eyed his own future run. Trump, on stage at an Arizona rally last October, remarked to the crowd that Lamb — a lawman who has a goatee and wears a cowboy hat — is from “central casting.” In 2020, he published a book, “American Sheriff: Traditional Values in a Modern World.”
Through the winter, Lake’s potential Senate candidacy helped ice the field. Despite rumblings from others considering their own bids, no Arizona Republican had taken the step of crossing Lake, who continues to litigate her gubernatorial loss in the Arizona courts.
Last November, Lake lost by just over 17,000 votes to Democrat Katie Hobbs. But in her GOP primary, she bested her chief rival Karrin Taylor Robson by 5%, even though Taylor Robson’s campaign outspent Lake by about a 5-to-1 margin.
Taylor Robson is still considering her own Senate run, as is as Blake Masters, the GOP’s Arizona Senate nominee in 2022.
Democrat Mark Kelly bested Masters by 5% last November.