[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/03/art.joe.arpaio.jpg caption=" Sheriff Arpaio is considering a 2012 bid."]Washington (CNN) – "America's Toughest Sheriff" Joe Arpaio passed on running for governor earlier this year, but the Arizona lawman who has become a national figure for his tough stand on illegal immigration is not closing the door on a presidential run in 2012.
Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, heads to the early presidential proving ground of New Hampshire Sunday to headline the Nashua Republican City Committee lunch.
"I am honored by this invitation to speak to the largest local Republican Party organization in the great state of New Hampshire," Arpaio said in a statement. "As a native New Englander, I'm looking forward to visiting this state that historically chooses who our next President will be."
Chad Willems, Arpaio's political adviser, said that the sheriff is "not going back to test the waters," but did acknowledge that "People just don't go to New Hampshire if they are not interested in these things."
Willems went on to highlight Arpaio's ability to raise money, the fact that he is often sought out by the national media and "is well known throughout the country."
"He enjoys being sheriff, but he has been asked by and urged by so many people, thousands of people call and write or email him each week saying, 'Run for president, run for president,' " Willems said.
Arpaio earned his nickname for his strict policies towards prisoners and recently has been engaged in a battle with the Obama administration over the issue of illegal immigration.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Arpaio, who was born across the border in Springfield, Massachusetts. He also was a Drug Enforcement Administration official in New England in the 1970s.
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.