April 30th, 2010
08:19 PM ET
13 years ago

Controversial Arizona sheriff considers run for governor's seat

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/30/art.sherrif.gi.jpg caption="Joe Arpaio says he will consider a run for the governor's seat over the weekend. "]Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) - Joe Arpaio, the tough-talking and controversial Arizona sheriff from Maricopa County, says he will consider a run for the governor's seat over the weekend.

Responding to reports that he had already made a decision, Arpaio firmly told reporters Friday that, "I am not running for governor now until I decide over the weekend with a glass of wine and my wife, since my mother and father came here from Italy, with a little spaghetti and meatballs."

His remarks followed a major raid in which 73 undocumented immigrants were taken into custody.

The sheriff - whose showy brand of justice has raised charges of discrimination and civil-rights abuses while making him a hero among fans of his tough-on-crime attitude - is a staunch supporter of Arizona's new immigration law, which will allow police to demand proof of legal residency when it goes into effect in 90 days.

Arizona lawmakers say the law is needed because the federal government has failed to enforce border security with Mexico, allowing more than 450,000 illegal immigrants to move into the state. Critics say the law is unconstitutional and will lead to racial profiling, which is illegal.

Arpaio, whose county includes Phoenix, has cultivated his image as "America's Toughest Sheriff," a nickname earned by his treatment of Maricopa County inmates. Many of his prisoners are housed in tents and forced to wear pink underwear, and he once boasted of feeding them on less than a dollar a day.

He has faced off with the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona over concerns about the immigrations raids conducted by his department. An ACLU class-action lawsuit alleges that Arpaio has abused the power delegated to him under his agreement with Homeland Security, known as the 287(g) program, which allowed his department to enforce federal immigration laws.

Arpaio also briefly starred in the FOX reality show, "Smile: You're Under Arrest." The show featured Arpaio and other officers using elaborate ploys crafted by comedy writers and carried out by professional actors to arrest suspects with outstanding warrants.

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soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. ben san roda

    A man like him is needed to stem the tide of illegals in this country. Go for it Sheriff Joe!

    May 1, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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