PHOENIX — For the first time since the 1990s, Maricopa County will have a sheriff not named Joe Arpaio.
The Associated Press said former Phoenix Police Sgt. Paul Penzone defeated Arpaio. Unofficial results said Penzone had about a 10-point margin in Tuesday’s general election at 9 p.m.
Penzone told KTAR News after his speech that he wants to use the roll to create a safe environment that gives law enforcement a good reputation.
Arpaio released a statement after the loss conceding to Penzone and saying serving as sheriff for such a long time was an honor.
“We want to congratulate Paul Penzone on his victory and look forward to working with him on a seamless transition,” Arpaio said in a statement. “My thanks and appreciation to the people of Maricopa County for the faith and trust they put in me over the years.
“I am also tremendously grateful for the hard work and dedication of every employee of my office. Their selfless and tireless dedication in protecting and serving the people is to be greatly admired.”
Though the victory will likely come as a shock to Arpaio, supporters of Penzone have likely felt the victory was coming. A poll backed by Penzone’s campaign said he would defeat Arpaio by at least four points.
Penzone’s campaign reportedly received millions of dollars in donations from New Yorker George Soros’ influential political action committee. The report from Politico went to say that Maricopa Strong had spent more money on this battle than any other.
After registering in Arizona in late August, Maricopa Strong began pushing against the lawman in a big way in September, when it began sending out mailers to Phoenix-area voters, followed by TV attack ads.
Politico wrote Arpaio has spent $2.8 million on TV ads. As of August, he had raised $10 million for his re-election campaign, the majority of it coming from outside Arizona.
Penzone sued over one of those ads, which alleged Penzone assaulted his ex-wife.
“There has never been a time in my life where I have ever hurt or harmed anybody, including my ex-wife,” Penzone said during a press conference to announce the lawsuit in late September.
“What is most personal is that you can pretend that it’s targeting me, but it’s not,” Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos after announcing the suit. “It’s targeted at those I love most.”
However, an attorney for Arpaio said Penzone’s attorneys were informed of the ad and its content prior to its release. They were told to notify Arpaio’s campaign of any falsities in the ad and never received a response.
Penzone told Mac & Gaydos that claim was untrue.
Arpaio’s attorney said the ad was based on public records and was reviewed for accuracy prior to being released.
That is not the only lawsuit Arpaio is involved in. He is also facing a criminal contempt-of-court case.
The law enforcer has acknowledged that he did not comply with an injunction to stop immigration patrols which a court found violated the rights of Latinos.
Arpaio has called the case a last-ditch by the Obama administration to remove him from office before the election.
“Because enforcing illegal immigration laws is not politically correct, within the first 100 days of taking office, Obama put then-Attorney General Eric Holder in charge of pursuing a ‘racial profiling’ case against me – among other trumped up, failed legal pursuits – and eight years later they’re still pursuing the case,” Arpaio said.
Arpaio argued that Maricopa County voters should be outraged by the criminal charges because, in his words, they are “a blatant abuse of power” and were designed to interfere with his re-election campaign.
“It is no coincidence that this announcement comes 28 days before the election and the day before early voting starts,” he said.
Penzone lost to Arpaio by 6 points in the 2012 race.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.