Joe Arpaio Says He Will Run Again for Maricopa County Sheriff

U.S.|Joe Arpaio Says He Will Run Again for Maricopa County Sheriff

Mr. Arpaio’s long and polarizing career has included a conviction for criminal contempt, a pardon from President Trump and a failed bid for the United States Senate.

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CreditCreditCaitlin O’Hara for The New York Times

Mihir Zaveri

Joe Arpaio, a former sheriff in Arizona who built a national reputation as an immigration hard-liner, said on Sunday that he would run again for his old office, the latest turn in a long and polarizing career that included a conviction for criminal contempt, a pardon from President Trump and an unsuccessful bid last year for a Senate seat.

Mr. Arpaio, a Republican, was first elected sheriff in 1992 and was defeated by a Democrat in 2016. If elected in 2020, it would be his seventh term in office.

“Thousands want me to run for Sheriff,” Mr. Arpaio, 87, said on Sunday in a tweet announcing his candidacy. “Ready for bruising, bitter campaign. Never back down.”

During his tenure as sheriff, Mr. Arpaio crusaded against illegal immigration.

He was repeatedly criticized. In 2011, the Justice Department said Mr. Arpaio led an office with “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos.”

A federal judge ruled in 2013 that Mr. Arpaio and his deputies violated the constitutional rights of Latinos.

Mr. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in July 2017 after he refused to stop detaining undocumented immigrants.

A month later, he was pardoned by Mr. Trump. A White House statement said at the time that Mr. Arpaio had given “years of admirable service to our nation” and called him a “worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”

In a tweet, Mr. Trump called Mr. Arpaio “an American patriot.”

“He kept Arizona safe!” the president said.

Reached by phone on Sunday evening, Mr. Arpaio declined to comment, saying he first needed to consult his lawyer.

Mr. Arpaio was also criticized for harsh conditions in the county jail. Inmates were sometimes forced to stay in outdoor tents under the hot sun (also known as Tent City), wear pink underwear or work on chain gangs.

He was a prominent member of the so-called birther movement that aimed to investigate President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. In 2012, Mr. Arpaio sent a posse to Hawaii to check on the birth certificate.

In January 2018, Mr. Arpaio kicked off a bid to replace Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican who abandoned his re-election campaign after coming under fire from Mr. Trump.

Mr. Arpaio finished third in the Republican primary contest with almost 19 percent of the vote, losing to Martha McSally.

Arizona, for decades a Republican stronghold, has become more evenly divided politically over the past decade. Some prominent conservatives viewed Mr. Arpaio as too divisive to win the Senate seat.

Mr. Arpaio’s announcement on Sunday was met with criticism.

“President Trump might’ve pardoned him, but those who had families and communities destroyed by his unlawful tactics have not,” Alessandra Soler, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said in a statement. “Joe Arpaio is a racist — and he should never hold public office again.”

Mr. Arpaio pointed out that his announcement on Sunday came on the second anniversary of Mr. Trump’s pardon (he also said it was his wife’s birthday).

Mr. Arpaio said that, if elected, he would bring back his “popular jail policies,” including Tent City, and “continue to enforce all Arizona laws that deal with drug trafficking, sex trafficking and other crimes associated with the border and illegal immigration.”

“The last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this county needs,” Mr. Arpaio said in the announcement. “Once back in office, I will use my position to restore pride to our law enforcement ranks, not only here, in the fourth-largest county in America, but across the country.”

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Mihir Zaveri covers breaking news from New York. Before joining The Times in 2018 he was a reporter for The Houston Chronicle.

 

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