Former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced he is running to become Maricopa County’s top elected lawman again, and pledged to bring back “tent city” and “other famous jail policies.”
Arpaio, who served as Maricopa County sheriff for 24 years, revealed Sunday that he is mounting a campaign for his old position. The 87-year-old Republican lost re-election to now-Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, a Democrat, in November 2016. Since that time, he earned a pardon from President Donald Trump for criminal contempt, and launched an unsuccessful senatorial campaign.
“On this day, August 25, 2019, after consultation and approval from my wife of 61 years, Ava, I have decided to run to be re-elected Sheriff,” read a Sunday press release. “Watch out world! We are back!”
“The last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this county needs,” Arpaio continued. “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.”
During his more than two decades as sheriff, the longest in Maricopa County history, Arpaio became a household name across the U.S. for a number of policies he implemented to combat crime and illegal immigration.
The GOP lawman built “tent city,” an outside jail of tents for convicted and sentenced inmates. During his tenure, he launched a volunteer “posse” organization to help law enforcement apprehend suspected illegal immigrants. Arpaio also attracted controversy for reinstating chain gangs and forcing male prisoners to wear pink underwear.
Arpaio, who branded himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” for his controversial programs, promised to reopen tent city, bring back his posse, and enforce Arizona laws that combat drug and sex trafficking, and “other crimes associated with the border and illegal immigration.”
Should he remain in the race, Arpaio would likely face his former chief deputy Gerard Sheridan in the August 4, 2020 GOP primary. If he emerges the victor, he would get a rematch with Penzone.
The August 25 campaign announcement is a special date for the former sheriff. Not only is it his wife’s birthday, but Sunday marked exactly two years since Trump gave him an official pardon regarding criminal contempt charges brought on by allegations of racial profiling suspected illegal immigrants. (RELATED: Former ICE Director: New Federal Arrest Numbers Prove ‘Illegal Immigration Is Not A Victimless Crime’)
Arpaio is already drawing strong parallels between his campaign and that of Trump’s, stating that his mission is to “Make Maricopa County Safe Again.”
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