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Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio Loses Another Arizona Republican Primary

The controversial Joe Arpaio earlier lost his office in the 2016 election cycle. He then tried a run for the U.S. Senate, but came in third in the 2018 Republican primary behind Martha McSally and Kelli Ward.

Arpaio, 88, was the sheriff in the county encompassing Phoenix, Arizona’s largest city, for 24 years. His focus was more on celebrity than equitable law enforcement. He was known for a disdain for civil rights—especially the civil rights of minorities.

He instituted attention-grabbing policies, such as erecting a tent city at the county’s jail to house prisoners in substandard, sweltering conditions while working in chain gangs and wearing pink-colored, jail-issued underwear.

Arpaio also instituted a policy of racially profiling Hispanics to enforce immigration laws. After he ignored a federal judge’s order to have his department stop racially profiling, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt.

Arpaio was an early and ardent Trump supporter and, in 2017, that paid off as President Trump issued his first presidential pardon—for the criminal contempt conviction.

According to Arizona Republican political consultant Chuck Coughlin, Arpaio “birthed the nationalism narrative that Trump is now using.”

Arpaio used reality-star showmanship and high-profile crackdowns on undocumented workers with the press in attendance.

Despite outspending his primary opponent, Maricopa County Sheriff Jerry Sheridan, 15 to 1 and having nearly 100% name recognition, Arpaio was defeated in the August Republican primary by about 6,300 of the over 420,000 votes cast.

“They were tired of me and tired of my office,” said Arpaio, who said it would be his last election bid. “I guess I lost by 1 percent, but I’m still the longest-serving sheriff in the history of Maricopa County. Nobody is going to beat that one.”

Ironically, Sheridan, Arpaio’s former chief deputy who bested Arpaio in the 2016 primary and went on to win election, was convicted of civil contempt of court and referred by the federal judge for criminal contempt prosecution for the same reasons as Arpaio. However, the statute of limitations prevented federal prosecutors from charging Sheridan with criminal contempt of court.

Under Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department ran up a $147 million bill for legal costs—over $6 million for each year he was in office—and failed to investigate over 400 sex crime complaints. Thus, his tenure was expensive and inefficient, among its many other faults. 



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