Late Friday night, President Trump made the decision to issue a pardon to the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa county. Joe Arpaio has been the name trending in the news, and is the center of much controversy. Now Arpaio is trending for a new reason.
According to The Washington Examiner, Arpaio is now considering a run for political office. “I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” Arpaio said. The former sheriff cited disappointment over Republicans’ lack of support for the President in his decision to consider the political move.
Despite the controversy surrounding his pardon, one thing is certain–Arpaio still has a tremendous following that could very well carry him through an election. Arpaio served as sheriff of Maricopa County for 24 years, persisting through two failed recall petitions in 2007 and 2013. He ultimately lost reelection to Paul Penzone in 2016 in a final vote of 55.6 percent to 44.4 percent.
“I’m sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me,” Arpaio said on Monday. “All I’m saying is the door is open and we’ll see what happens. I’ve got support. I know what support I have.”
The news is particularly interesting considering next year’s primary that could unseat Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Flake has recently become an adamant critic of Trump and has strayed from GOP–much to their disgust–instead, voting with the Democrats. Arpaio would be a strong opponent of Flake if he could secure the financial support.
Currently, Kelli Ward is slated to be the best Trump-supporting conservative rival against Flake. However, she has been the subject of media heat for allegations of being a conspiracy theorist. While the liberal-induced accusations are ridiculous, the negative attention could potentially damage her support.
A big question remains: Can Arpaio overcome his controversial past and the media onslaught to win another election?
Arpaio has been heavily criticized for what has been labeled “abusive” practices in Maricopa County jails. He implemented measures that required inmates be housed outdoors in tents amidst temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Other harsh practices he implemented included chain gangs, a prisoner dress code that included pink underwear, and Selective Service registration for imprisoned illegal immigrants.
A federal judge found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt when he continued–despite a court order–detaining individuals suspected of being unlawful immigrants. The criminal contempt conviction would have resulted in a jail sentence up to six-months until President Trump intervened with a pardon.
When the pardon was just a rumor, the 85-year-old sheriff admitted that he would continue to support the President regardless of the decision. “I have a great deal of respect for him, I always will, pardon or no pardon. I’m with him to the end, as long as he’s the president, I will support him,” he told Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto.
One thing is certain: If Arpaio decides to run for political office, his loyalty to the President will extend to his votes. Arpaio could be a key figure in helping shape and pass Trump’s agenda.
While Arpaio swore off future candidacies in January, the current political landscape has clearly changed his mind. The Trump administration could certainly use a loyal figure to replace Flake–especially in Arizona where the border could largely benefit from Trump’s border security agenda. If Arpaio can overcome slandering and controversy, he could be the very ally Trump needs to make America great again.