America’s most infamous — former — sheriff, Joe Arpaio, won’t be getting his old job back, after losing the Republican primary race to his former deputy, Jerry Sheridan, in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Arpaio, 88, who has dubbed himself “America’s toughest sheriff” for his hardline anti-immigrant stances, was previously the sheriff in the Phoenix metro area for 24 years before losing his seat in a landslide defeat in 2016.
Arpaio was best known for his “immigration stops,” where he’d illegally detain Latino residents on suspicion of immigration law violations — a practice the courts ordered him to cease. He was convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 for violating that court order, after years of allegations that Arpaio’s policing tactics amounted to racial profiling and unconstitutionally targeted Latinos. President Donald Trump pardoned his sentence.
It was a tight four-way primary, with Arpaio and Sheridan as favorites. Sheridan served under Arpaio for much of his career and held a leadership position in the sheriff’s department during the racial profiling lawsuit. The court ruled that Sheridan also acted in contempt of the court order, but ultimately didn’t charge him criminally.
As sheriff, Arpaio was known for establishing an outdoor jail — a “Tent City” that Arpaio himself once proudly referred to as a “concentration camp” — where inmates were forced to walk around in chains, endure extreme temperatures, and wear pink underwear. He also was a big supporter of the baseless conspiracy theory, popularized by Trump, that former President Barack Obama was not an American citizen.
Arpaio announced he would be running for his old seat in 2019, vowing to bring back the outdoor jails and immigration crackdowns that his successor, Democrat Paul Penzone, a retired Phoenix police sergeant, did away with.
Sheridan ran on an agenda similar to Arpaio’s, calling for a return of “Tent City, in some form.” His campaign platform said Sheridan considers the outdoor jail as “an effective deterrent for many first-time offenders.”
Penzone is running for reelection and was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
This is Arpaio’s second failed bid at elected office since badly losing to Penzone by nearly 13 points in 2016. In 2018, Arpaio came in third in the Republican Senate primary, in which he lost Maricopa County.