Joe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff

Former Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio narrowly lost his campaign to get his old job back Friday, ending a nearly successful comeback for one of the state’s most polarizing figures.

Arpaio, who held the position from 1993 to 2017, lost the GOP primary for the job to 40-year department veteran and Arpaio aide Jerry Sheridan by just more than 6,000 votes when the Maricopa County Elections Department called the race. The two contenders were separated by just 1 percentage point, 37-36. 

The loss marked Arpaio’s second defeat on his mission to return to politics. The former sheriff lost the GOP Senate primary in Arizona in 2018. 

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Arpaio was pardoned by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE in 2017 after being convicted of criminal contempt of court for refusing to obey a judge’s order in a racial profiling case. 

The former sheriff remains a fiercely polarizing figure in the state, drawing controversial headlines for creating chain gangs in prison and housing inmates in tents in the scorching heat. A vocal immigration hard-liner, Arpaio is most well known for profiling Hispanics.

He was involved in a number of scandals later during his time as sheriff, including the botching of more than 400 sex crime complaints made to his office and a judge finding his officers guilty of targeting Latinos in traffic stops.

Arpaio has tried to cast his political comeback as an attempt to restore a fierce ally of Trump, though he has struggled to shake criticism of his conviction and raised paltry amounts of money for his sheriff bid compared with past hauls.

Sheridan, who was also found in civil contempt of court for declining to follow a 2011 court order to stop the immigration patrols, will face Sheriff Paul Penzone (D) in the general election.

“With the primary race for Maricopa County Sheriff officially concluding tonight, Arizona Democrats reaffirm our commitment to protecting the Latino community from the likes of Joe Arpaio’s former number two, Jerry Sheridan, who was found in contempt of court and will double down on Arpaio’s disturbing legacy that embarrassed our state and cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Matt Grodsky, spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. 

“Arizona’s largest county is better off under the leadership of Sheriff Penzone, a leader with a legacy of accountability, committed to building community trust," he added. "We know voters will stick with him this November.”