Controversial former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio says he plans to run for the U.S. Senate, just four-and-a-half months after receiving a presidential pardon.
Making the announcement via Twitter, Arpaio said he’s running “to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again.”
Arpaio is seeking to fill the vacancy being created by Sen. Jeff Flake’s announcement that he would not seek re-election, a decision he says he made because of the current political environment and Trump.
The former Maricopa County Sheriff was convicted in 2017 for violating a 2011 court order to stop traffic patrols aimed at immigrants. He faced a maximum of six years in prison. Arpaio also once referred to his outdoor “tent city” jail as a “concentration camp.” A Department of Justice expert said at the time that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history.
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Trump, though, said Arpaio was a “patriot” and “protected our borders.” He also accused President Obama of treating the 85-year-old Arpaio unfairly.
“Sheriff Joe was very unfairly treated by the Obama administration, especially right before an election that he would have won,” Trump said after the pardon. “And he was elected many times. So I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe. And I think the people of Arizona who really know him best would agree with me.”
Arizona, while a fiercely Republican state, could be an uphill battle for Arpaio. His last run for public office in 2016 fell short, resulting in him leaving the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office.