When it comes to the semi-annual will he or won't he run for political office guessing game, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is kind of a tease. The notorious anti-immigrant sheriff's name pops up with clocklike regularity every time a major election nears, and has always played coy when it comes to the rumors. This time, the LA Times is reporting that Arpaio may be considering a presidential run. CNN is floating the same rumors.
The evidence? Arpaio's been stepping into bigger races outside Arizona to lend his polarizing support for GOP candidates. Most notably, Arpaio's been stumping for Nevada Tea Partier Sharron Angle to try to oust Sen. Harry Reid. Arpaio also raised eyebrows about his political ambitions when he gave a speech Sunday in New Hampshire at a Republican lunch.
From The LA Times:
"The sheriff potentially has a lot of appeal because he's a single-issue person," said Kenneth Fernandez, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas. "He represents being tough on crime and tough on immigration, and I can see a lot of politicians wanting his endorsement."
Arpaio has recently been touting the power of his support, saying it carried more weight than that of Republican Sen. John McCain, at least in Arizona. Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, won reelection in 2008 with 55% of the vote.
Arpaio is so notorious and so camera hungry that he makes a natural fit for these types of rumors. And he never denies them. In April, Arpaio did not deny months of rumors that he was considering a run for governor of Arizona, even though it would have meant he'd have challenged Gov. Jan Brewer, already a marquee name in the Republican party for signing SB 1070 into law. "I don't want to be egotistical," Arpaio said in an interview on CNN, "but I could be governor if I ran. My polls are very high. I got the money. I got the polls. I got the support." By the next weekend, he announced he would not run for governor after all.
If Arpaio really wants his shot at the White House, he'll have to get in line behind plenty of other big-name Republicans.
Arpaio joins a long list of Republicans such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, among others, who are expected to seriously consider a bid for the GOP presidential nomination.
Arpaio is currently being sued by the Department of Justice for refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation into his department over allegations that Arpaio relied on racial profiling to enforce immigration laws in Maricopa County.