Embattled sheriff drops Arizona House bid

Paul Babeu, the Republican sheriff of Arizona's Pinal County, has dropped his bid for the House.

Babeu's campaign had spent much of the past three months reeling from a scandal involving an ex-boyfriend who alleged Babeu had threatened him with deportation if he didn't keep quiet about Babeu's sexuality.

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Babeu denied any wrongdoing, but acknowledged he is gay and that the man was a disgruntled ex-lover — a difficult admission for a Republican running in a conservative district.

Babeu emailed supporters just after midnight local time in Arizona on Friday to say he would seek reelection as sheriff, describing his decision as one intended to ensure the continuity of the sheriff's office. Babeu did not mention the scandal or the resulting fallout — which impeded his ability to raise funds — in his announcement.

"I was elected because I listen and respond to the people I represent. I want to continue to serve as sheriff and focus on performance and results of public safety," said Babeu. "No one can argue that our Sheriff's Office isn't better off than four years ago."

Babeu's candidacy initially energized Republicans in Arizona, in part due to his national standing as a tough advocate on immigration issues, where he frequently butted heads with Attorney General Eric Holder.

His decision is good news for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who after redistricting opted to switch congressional districts and run in the more conservative district where Babeu was also running. State Sen. Ron Gould (R) is also in the primary, and more could join.

Babeu's reelection as sheriff is not a done deal. Six candidates — including three Republicans — have already announced their campaigns for the sheriff's post.