HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says he is not running for U.S. Senate at this time - but he isn't ruling anything out in the future.
"I have my dream job as sheriff," Jones told FOX19 NOW early Wednesday.
"I would have beat anyone being considered for senator, but I am more effective here than in Washington D.C. Some people were asking me to run as an Independent, not a Republican or Democrat.
"At this time I am going to try to drain the swamp from outside the swamp. My mom told me never get in the swamp. There's alligators and snakes and lizards. I'm going to heed what my mom said."
The cigar-smoking and Stetson-clad law enforcement veteran announced to first to FOX19 NOW he wasn't getting into the Senate race after fueling speculation for days.
"I can do more from outside the swamp than inside the swamp," he said. "I have the bully pulpit right now.
"When other people seeking office come to me and seek endorsement, my endorsement is not taken lightly. You have to earn it. I need to see where you are coming from. If you are a weak person and do not do what the people elected you to do, I will not support you."
Jones was talked about as a potential contender for the U.S. Senate race after Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel abruptly dropped out Friday due to his wife's health.
Mandel was seen as the front-runner to try to unseat Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.
It's not clear now who will replace him on the Republican ticket by the Feb. 7 filing deadline.
Jones said Wednesday even he doesn't know.
He is turning his attention to the Senate race in Arizona.
He said he wants to help Joe Arpaio, the Republican former Maricopia County sheriff known for his hard-line immigration tactics who entered the race this week.
Arpaio was defeated in the 2016 sheriff election after 24 years in office.
He was convicted last year of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos but was pardoned by President Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign Arpaio had supported, in August before serving any jail time.
"I am going to reach out to Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona and see if I can help him," Jones said. "I support him and I support President Trump."
The no-nonsense and blunt Jones, 64, remains widely popular with voters in Butler County and has been ever since he won his first election in 2004 and took office in 2005.
He easily held onto his seat the last time his term was up, in November 2016, with more than 72 percent of the vote.
Jones is no stranger to controversy. In fact, he thrives on stirring it up.
He has drawn national attention and some protests with his outspoken positions on issues like immigration and Narcan.
Jones has a compassionate side, too.
Each winter, when temperatures fall below freezing at night, he opens the lobby at the sheriff's office/jail to shelter the homeless. They sleep on the chairs and are permitted to go into the jail to shower.
When he sees them come in with children, he has deputies drive the families to area shelters.
Late last year, Jones quietly gave $5,000 from his campaign fund to help a financially struggling Hamilton soup kitchen after seeing a story about it on FOX19 NOW.
New Life Mission on Henry Street immediately used the money to pay their overdue utilty bill just days before the power was scheduled to be cut off.