- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - Another Democrat jumped into the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Jeff Flake on Tuesday, with businessman and former public school teacher Jim Moss of Globe announcing he would seek his party’s nomination for the seat.

The 62-year-old political newcomer is embracing the progressive political platform championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. He said he won’t take corporate cash and promised to push for higher minimum wages, advocate for health care security and protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Arizona’s two U.S. senators are both Republicans, as are all statewide elected officials, but Moss said he believes the state is ready for a change.

“I think Arizona is truly a purple state and I think it can shift either way,” Moss said. “And I think the winds are blowing at the progressive’s back and I think if we come out with a bold progressive message people will respond to that.”

Moss is a former public school teacher who in 2003 developed a former warehouse in Globe into a trading post that he said is thriving. He said he believes he’s got a chance to raise the needed cash for a viable campaign without big-money backing.

“I’m a risk taker, and I’m just crazy enough and got enough moxie to say it can be done,” he said in an interview.

Two other little-known Democrats, Phoenix activist Deedra Abboud and Sierra Vista attorney Chris Russell, have filed for the race. State Rep. Randall Friese and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton are considering runs as well, but most eyes are on U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who has more than $3 million on hand already in a race where in 2012 about $20 million was spent in the Republican primary alone.

Sinema is serving her third 2-year term, and has become one of the more moderate Democrats in Washington, a huge change from her left-leaning political bent during years in the state Legislature. If Sinema jumps into the race and Moss gains traction as a progressive, it could lead to an interesting race that mirrors one developing in the Republican primary.

Flake is facing a strong primary challenge from Republican Kelli Ward, who has gotten shout-outs from President Donald Trump on Twitter as the president lobbed criticism onto Flake. Other Republicans are also considered likely to jump in. Frequently mentioned are former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham and state Treasurer Jeff DeWit.

Moss said he’s going to highlight what he sees as Flake’s backing of big corporate interests over the middle class.

“Let’s be honest - Mr. Flake and most of his Republican colleagues really do not care all that much about the concerns of hardworking Arizonans trying to protect their families,” he said. “Who are they fighting for? Big money interests who stash their profits offshore to avoid paying their fair share, and who oppose a decent minimum wage, free college tuition, a robust EPA and who want to privatize Social Security and Medicare.”

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