Remember Joe Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” in America? Remember when Arpaio was found guilty of contempt of court last July for turning his deputies into a “full fledged anti-illegal immigration agency?” Remember when he was sentenced to six months in jail? Remember when President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio because of his “admirable service to our nation?” Well, today the very same Joe Arpaio announced that he is running for the United States Senate, as first reported by the Washington Examiner.
Arpaio served exactly zero days of his jail sentence, since he was pardoned by the president, while anywhere between 6,000 to 10,000 people were detained in Arpaio’s jails from 2000 to 2015 — the majority of whom were “legally considered innocent,” unlike Arpaio. Now he is one of three Republicans vying to replace Sen. Jeff Flake, whom Trump once referred to as “Sen. Jeff Flake(y)” and is retiring this year. State Senator Kelli Ward, who was endorsed by Steve Bannon, and Rep. Martha McSally, who has voted 100 percent in line with Trump’s positions, are also in the running. So Arizona Republicans have some great options.
It’s too soon to tell which of them will come out on top. Last November, the Weekly Standard reported that Ward was leading McSally by 9 points in early polls, but Arpaio’s announcement will definitely shake up the race. The former lawman’s popularity slumped during his final years in office — by 2012, just half of Maricopa County residents approved of the sheriff. Maybe it had something to do with his refusal to investigate sex crimes during his tenure as sheriff while ramping up immigration enforcement, his reintroduction of chain gangs to Arizona, or that time he bragged that the meals his inmates ate cost 40 cents a day — a bargain compared to the $1.15 per day used to feed his department’s dogs. Perhaps fiscal conservatives will appreciate his frugality. But let’s hope that instead they’ll vote for someone who didn’t spend $140 million settling police brutality cases over two decades.
Arpaio claims he’s running to “support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump.” If he does become Arizona’s next Senator, it’s likely he’ll pursue the same discriminatory immigration policies that got him into legal trouble in the first place. But it’s unclear that this strategy will work. As ThinkProgress pointed out, Trump won Arizona by just 4.1 percent, and his current approval rating is just 33 percent. Even if Arpaio doesn’t win, he has seven months to push McSally — the current frontrunner — further to the right, as the Examiner speculated he might do.
Trust the process, am I right?!