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Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio easily wins Tuesday’s primary in Arizona

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — Tuesday’s primary election in Arizona was a breeze for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio beat out three challengers on Tuesday: Former Buckeye Police Chief Dan Saban, retired sheriff’s Deputy Wayne Baker and Marsha Hill, former commander of a sheriff’s volunteer group.

“I think the people want me around,” he said, rejecting criticism that he’s been in office too long. “Tonight proves a whole bunch of them want me to do it.”

The sheriff — who has more than $11 million in his war chest — was relying on voters to ignore a federal judge’s recent order referring him for criminal contempt of court charges.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow’s Aug. 19 ruling came in a long-running case where the sheriff acknowledged he failed to stop his signature immigration patrols despite Snow’s order to halt them.

Arpaio’s campaign manager, Chad Willems, questioned the timing of Snow’s decision in the buildup to the primary.

“I am not impugning his motives or questioning his integrity. It just seems whenever a major decision comes out, the timing is curious,” Willems said, citing a 2013 decision in which Snow found Arpaio’s officers racially profiled Latinos.

KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said questions surrounding Arpaio’s contempt of court case will likely linger until after the general election in November.

With Tuesday’s win, Arpaio will move onto the general election where he will face former Phoenix police officer Paul Penzone, whom he defeated in the 2012 election by six points. Some predict it will be the toughest campaign Arpaio has faced in his 24 years in office.

He will be seeking his seventh term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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