‘America’s toughest sheriff’ Joe Arpaio narrowly defeated in bid for old job


Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio poses for a photograph in his office as he is running for the position of Maricopa County Sheriff again, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Fountain Hills, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX (News Nation) — Former lawman Joe Arpaio, the nationally known Arizona sheriff who found common cause with President Donald Trump on a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, narrowly lost his bid to regain his old job, vote tallies showed on Friday.

Arpaio, 88, who billed himself as “America’s toughest sheriff,” got edged out in the Republican primary for Maricopa County sheriff by his former second-in-command, Jerry Sheridan.

In the November general election, Sheridan will face incumbent Democrat Paul Penzone, who ousted Arpaio from office in a 2016 landslide victory.

Arpaio, damaged by a series of court judgments that cost local taxpayers more than $178 million to date, went on to lose a race two years later to fill the seat of the late Republican U.S. Senator John McCain.

A federal judge in 2017 found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court, ruling that the sheriff had willfully violated a 2011 injunction barring his officers from stopping and detaining Latino motorists solely on suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

Trump granted Arpaio clemency before he was to be sentenced, marking the first pardon of his presidency. Sheridan also was cited for contempt by the same judge, but was not prosecuted.

Arpaio said he believes some supporters who have thanked him in recent years for his service really meant they wanted him to move on from politics.

“What they meant is it’s time to go fishing,” said Arpaio, who isn’t an angler. “I still took a shot at it. I’m not ashamed. I could have won this one.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

© 1998 - 2020 Nexstar Inc. | All Rights Reserved.