Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who served the county of Maricopa since his first election in 1993, was firmly defeated in his reelection bid on Tuesday night. The Donald Trump supporter and controversial political figure routinely popped up in the 2016 election news cycle for reasons as varied as expressing joy at the prospect of handling rally protesters, and facing charges for criminal contempt over his questionable immigration patrols. Thanks to a significant change of heart in his county, however, Arpaio lost to Democrat Paul Penzone by a landslide.
According to the New York Times, Arpaio’s latest attempt to retain his office “was undone by Latino voters who responded to his hard-line position on illegal immigration, which included workplace raids, frequent traffic stops and harsh talk.” Penzone, a former Phoenix police sergeant who challenged Arpaio in 2012 and lost, beat the incumbent by almost 10 full points — 54.9 percent to 45.1 percent.
In addition to a strong Latino turnout at the polls, however, the Maricopa County sheriff’s race attained a great deal of national attention and money. Much of this, like over $2 million spent by billionaire investor George Soros, was due to Arpaio’s notoriety for his positions on illegal immigration, deportation and related issues. There was even an advocacy group called Puente, founded in 2007, whose sole purpose was “to counter the sheriff’s embrace of a federal program that allowed his deputies to act as de facto immigration agents.”
Despite the decisive loss, Arpaio won’t be disappearing from the national spotlight anytime soon. The adamant Trump supporter is bound to pop up in some form or fashion, thanks to his association with the president-elect, and he still faces criminal charges for his spurious immigration enforcement along the Arizona-Mexico border.
(Via New York Times)