If not for Donald Trump, Sheriff Joe Arpaio would most likely be in prison. Now Arpaio has announced he is running for the United States Senate. Arpaio says he wants Jeff Flake’s Senate seat in Arizona. Back in October, Jeff Flake announced he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.
It’s a twist of fate for the so-called “America’s Toughest Sheriff”. Less than six months ago, he was facing jail time after he was convicted of criminal contempt. Enter President Trump. Trump intervened and pardoned Arpaio before a sentence was even handed down.
Arpaio looks to be returning the favor to Trump. In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Arpaio wrote that his “one unwavering reason” for running is “to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again.”
I am running for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Arizona, for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again. https://t.co/ANppBdDOtp
— Sheriff Joe Arpaio (@RealSheriffJoe) January 9, 2018
This is a seat that Trump will likely want a hardcore supporter like Arpaio to win. In addition to keeping a Republican majority in the Senate, the seat is currently held by Flake, whose retirement speech went viral last October for his stinging criticisms of the president.
“Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is’, when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified,” Flake said from the Senate floor. His words are dripping with irony with today’s news.
Arpaio’s career is a minefield of civil rights abuses and controversial remarks. He is an anti-immigration hardliner who has been the subject of a number of lawsuits involving racial profiling and discrimination.
He is also infamous for his abuse of power. Arpaio is a birther conspiracist who once spent taxpayer money to send a deputy to Hawaii to search for Barack Obama’s birth certificate. As Maricopa County Sheriff, he instituted “Tent City”, a makeshift outdoor jail in Phoenix that Arpaio himself once called a “concentration camp”. For more than two decades prisoners were made to face 100+ degree heat in Tent City during the Arizona summers, and male prisoners were mandated to wear pink underwear.
Arpaio often dismissed critics by characterizing his tactics as a “get-tough” approach to crime.
With all that in mind, it’s not surprising that the backlash has already begun.