Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday lost his bid to reclaim the post he held for more than two decades, narrowly losing to a former aide in the Republican primary.
“What they meant is it’s time to go fishing,” Arpaio said of the message sent by voters in the Arizona county..
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“I still took a shot at it. I’m not ashamed. I could have won this one,” the 88-year-old said.
Arpaio, who was voted out in 2016, lost by more than 6,200 votes in the primary to former aide Jerry Sheridan, who will go on to face incumbent Democrat Paul Penzone in November.
The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Arpaio served in the Army from 1950 to 1954 as part of the Medical Detachment Division during the Korean War.
After his military service, Arpaio worked as a police officer in Washington, D.C., for three years before serving as a cop in Las Vegas for six months. He also worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration for 25 years, starting in 1957.
Arpaio held the position in metro Phoenix from 1992 to 2016, and his tenure was marked by a hardline stance on immigration and crime. He created old-time chain gangs and launched a number of crackdowns against illegal immigrants — moves that led to a number of successful legal challenges and resulted in $147 million in legal bills.
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After being voted out in 2016, he was convicted in 2017 of contempt of court for disobeying a 2011 court order to stop patrols for illegal immigrants. President Trump pardoned Arpaio months later.
Arpaio had promised to revive some of his more controversial policies, including jail tents in the scorching Arizona heat, a policy that had faced accusations of cruelty.
Sheridan ran on similar policies to Arpaio, and pledged to be his own man if elected in November.
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“I’m not Joe Arpaio. I’m Jerry Sheridan, a 32-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheridan, in a Fox 10 interview. “Hundreds of employees asked me to run. That’s why after 32 years and two years of retirement, I decided to throw my hat in the ring.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.