Republican Joe Arpaio, a close ally of President Donald Trump who gained the moniker “America’s toughest sheriff” for his stance on illegal immigration, announced on Tuesday that he will run for the U.S. Senate in Arizona.
Arpaio’s entrance is sure to thrust the Arizona senate race into the national spotlight in August, given the former sheriff’s name recognition and close bond with the president.
Trump issued a pardon to Arpaio last year shortly before the 85-year-old was set to be sentenced on a contempt-of-court charge related to his department’s work aimed at apprehending people who crossed the border illegally.
Arpaio, who would be 86 by the time he is sworn into the Senate, is running for the seat formerly occupied by Jeff Flake, who announced in October that he will resign at the end of his term. Flake had grown increasingly unpopular among Arizona voters over his fierce opposition to President Donald Trump.
An August survey conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling showed that only 18 percent of Arizona voters approved of Flake’s Job.
“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” Arpaio told the Washington Examiner. “I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not be doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper, I get that every day, anyway.”
In addition to his tough stance on illegal immigration, as sheriff, Arpaio was tough on criminals, housing inmates in outdoor tents and issuing them pink underwear.
The former sheriff believes his policies brought him under the crosshairs of the Obama administration, eventually leading to the contempt of court charge.
“This started under Obama and Holder 60 days after they took office and it took them all these years to get me on a contempt of court charge, a misdemeanor. You get the same time for barking dogs,” Arpaio told Washington Examiner.
Not many of Arpaio’s specific policy ideas are known at this point, given the early stage of the campaign. But he is certain to be a supporter of Trump and his policies, as well as continue his opposition to illegal immigration.
Arpaio said that he would support some sort of legalization since Trump has signaled that he is willing to compromise with Democrats to give legal status to aliens in the discontinued Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“I have a far-out plan, which may look stupid,” he told the Washington Examiner. “When they come to your attention that they’re here illegally, these young people, deport them back to Mexico—or whatever—and then try to put them on a fast track to come back into the United States legally with special permits. What’s wrong with that? They’d say they don’t know where their home country is, so let them go there and spend six months, because it might take that long to do paperwork to get them here legally and let them see their home country and see what it’s really like. They ought to be proud where they came from. I’m proud being an Italian American. I’m proud of Italy. I’m proud my father, mother came over, proud of it. So, you could kill two birds with one stone.
“That would be no amnesty, everybody would be happy, you deport them and then let them come back with all their education here,” he continued. “I’m sure they could find a temporary job or help the foreign countries and build up relations and come back. That’s just a big picture that I have. People may say I’m crazy. What am I crazy about? It just makes sense.”
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