Joe Arpaio speaking into microphone

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Welp, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is running for Senate

If you thought the Alabama race was controverisal...


David Covucci


Posted on Jan 9, 2018   Updated on May 22, 2021, 5:24 am CDT

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the controversial Arizona sheriff convicted of criminal contempt and pardoned by President Donald Trump, is running for the Arizona Senate seat vacated by Jeff Flake.

Arpaio announced his intention to run for the seat in an interview with the Washington Examiner today before following it up with a tweet.

A run by Sheriff Joe was unthinkable months ago, and it might be as unthinkable today, but it’s happening.

Arpaio is the disgraced former sheriff of Maricopa County, convicted of criminal contempt for refusing to obey a court order to stop his officers from unfairly targeting Latinos in his county.

Last year, Trump latched onto his case and pardoned the sheriff. Trump’s act came over objections that pardoning someone for being convicted of disobeying a court order violated the separation of government powers.

With a clear record, “Arpaio for Senate” began to gain steam. However, the special Senate election in Alabama last month showed that unsavory characters with checkered pasts don’t make the best candidates to send to the upper chamber. Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore, predominantly with votes from people of color.

Arpaio’s past sins are much more public and much more disconcerting than Moore’s. At the time of Trump’s pardon, a Twitter thread detailing Arpaio’s behavior went viral.

However, Trump has shown a fondness for Arpaio that wasn’t as consistently present with Moore. Should Trump put his full support behind Arpaio’s candidacy, it would pit the changing demographics of Arizona—and by proxy, America—against the hardline immigration stance and nationalist tendencies of the president’s most ardent supporters. Currently, over 40 percent of Arizona’s residents are non-white.

In a statement to the Examiner, Arpaio said he believed he could win.

“I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not being doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper.”

Arizona’s Republican primary will be held on Aug. 28, where Arpaio, who is 85, will be up against Kelli Ward, who lost a primary to John McCain in 2016, and Rep. Martha McSally.

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*First Published: Jan 9, 2018, 11:15 am CST