Joe Arpaio announced today he is seeking a seventh term as sheriff of Arizona’s largest county.
The controversial Arpaio, who is 87, lost the 2016 election to Democrat Paul Penzone 56% to 43%. In 2017 Donald Trump pardoned him after a conviction on a charge of criminal contempt in a federal court involving illegal racial profiling by his officers.
Arpaio also sparked criticism for housing some prisoners under his supervision in outdoor “tent cities” and using so-called chain gangs.
He said if he were to be reelected sheriff, he would bring back the “tent cities.”
The former sheriff still has many admirers within the Republican Party. If he wins the primary, his attempted return will no doubt spark a huge turnout in Maricopa County by both Democrats and Republicans.
Arizona could be a key battleground for the both the Senate and the Presidency. Maricopa County has about 4.5 million people, 61% of Arizona’s total population. In 2016, Trump won the state with 49% of the vote to 45.5% for Hillary Clinton. In Maricopa, Trump received 49.1% to 45.7% for Clinton. It is unlikely one could win the state without doing well in the county.
Penzone’s website states that fundraising is underway for his 2020 re-election bid so he is expecting to run again.