Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, said he will seek another term in his old job, two years after he received a pardon from President Donald Trump.
Arpaio, 87, who served as sheriff from 1993 to 2016, was known for his crackdown on illegal immigrants and harsh prison policies. That led to a contempt-of-court charge for continuing to make immigration arrests after a court had ordered him to stop.
The press release announcing his bid noted that it was the two-year anniversary of Trump pardoning him. It was also his wedding anniversary on Aug. 25.
Arpaio, who is an outspoken supporter of Trump, told supporters over the weekend of his intention.
“After consultation and approval from my wife of 61 years, Ava, I have decided to run to be reelected sheriff,” he said in a statement. “Watch out world! We are back!”
Arpaio announced a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in January 2018 but fell short in the Republican primary, losing to Martha McSally. She went on to lose to Kyrsten Sinema, but was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to the Senate seat left by John McCain after he died in December 2018.
Trump has expressed support for Arpaio multiple times.
“He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration. He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him,” the president told Fox in 2017, as he mulled the pardon he’d eventually issue.
“Is there anyone in local law enforcement who has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than Sheriff Joe? He has protected people from crimes and saved lives. He doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”
In the pardon announcement, the White House said that Arpaio’s life and career, including his military enlistment, time as a police officer, and the years as a sheriff, “exemplify public service.”
In the new announcement, Arpaio said his top priority would be protecting “the law-abiding people” in Maricopa County.
“I will continue to stand and fight to do the right thing for Arizona and America, and will never surrender. Those who break the law will have to deal with this sheriff,” Arpaio said.
“The last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this county needs. Once back in office, I will use my position to restore pride to our law enforcement ranks, not only here, in the fourth-largest county in America, but across the country.”
His campaign said thousands of people across the United States have urged him to run since he said that he was considering a fresh bid about two months ago. The campaign noted that Arpaio hasn’t lost a Republican primary for sheriff.
Arpaio won the Republican primary in 2016 with more than 65 percent of the vote before losing to Democratic candidate Paul Penzone by nearly 200,000 votes. About 1.5 million votes were cast in the general election.
Penzone is running for reelection. He hasn’t commented on Arpaio’s challenge.
Shortly after being elected, Penzone began to close “Tent City,” the outdoor jail that helped raise Arpaio to national fame.
“This facility is not a crime deterrent, it is not cost efficient, and it is not tough on criminals,” Penzone said at an announcement of the jail closure, saying it led to a “circus” atmosphere, the Arizona Republic reported. “Starting today, that circus ends, and these tents come down.”
For his first year anniversary as sheriff, Penzone released a video, titled “Then and Now,” highlighting the closing of the jail and other things he’s done differently than Arpaio. Among the other changes he instituted was ending so-called “courtesy holds,” which saw jails in the county hold inmates for an additional time, up to 48 hours, if Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they were in the country illegally.
“Our job in MCSO is neither to do the work of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement department, nor is it to stand in their way,” Penzone wrote in an op-ed published in The Republic.