An ardent supporter of President Donald Trump just had his latest return to politics cut short with a narrow electoral defeat.
According to NBC News, former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has lost his bid to become the next Republican candidate for the position he held for nearly a quarter-century prior to his 2016 loss.
A controversial record
The 88-year-old candidate built a reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff” for his firm stance on a wide range of issues dating back to 1992 when he was first elected to serve as sheriff over Arizona’s most populous county.
Arpaio reinstituted chain gangs among inmates and forced them to reside in tents even in Arizona’s extreme climate. Such practices earned him praise from many tough-on-crime Republicans — including Trump.
His stance on immigration and controversial practices within his department, however, led to a constant cloud of controversy and culminated with him being voted out of office.
In 2018, he staged another attempted return to the political scene, running for a U.S. Senate seat representing Arizona. Along with his most recent bid to become sheriff, that campaign came up short.
The controversy surrounding Arpaio’s tenure as sheriff hit a crescendo in 2013, when a federal judge found that his officers were racially profiling Latinos and disproportionately targeting them in traffic stops. When the sheriff did not follow the judge’s order to stop the practice, he was held in criminal contempt. In 2017, he received a presidential pardon.
A new direction
He faced other legal challenges, reportedly racking up $147 million in taxpayer-funded bills to, among other things, defend his department against claims that it mishandled over 400 sex crimes dating back more than a decade.
In a report from that time, the Associated Press stated that the cases included “dozens of alleged child molestations” that “were inadequately investigated and in some instances were not worked at all, according to current and former police officers familiar with the cases.”
While Arpaio will not be on the general-election ballot in November, a longtime key associate will be.
His former aide, Jerry Sheridan, will take on Democratic Sheriff Paul Penzone, who unseated Arpaio in 2016, on Election Day.
Arpaio’s time in public office appears to have come to an end, but his many fans across Arizona and beyond hope that some of his effective policing policies carry on.