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Sheridan defeats Arpaio in primary for Maricopa County Sheriff

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Jerry Sheridan has defeated Joe Arpaio in the Republican primary for Maricopa County Sheriff, The Associated Press confirmed Friday.

With about 443,000 ballots counted as of Friday, Sheridan had 37% of the vote to Arpaio’s 36%, according to the Maricopa County Elections Department.

Sheridan and Arpaio were separated by 6,200 votes with about 2,380 votes left to be counted.

Sheridan will move on to face Democratic incumbent Paul Penzone, who ran unopposed and handily beat Arpaio in 2016.

As metro Phoenix’s sheriff from 1992 through 2016, Arpaio rose to political prominence by creating old-time chain gangs and housing inmates in tents during triple-digit heat. But he is most well known for launching immigration crackdowns, some of which contributed significantly to his political downfall.

While his defiant streak played well with voters for many years, Arpaio faced heavy criticism for taking on policies that he knew were controversial and racking up $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal bills. His agency also botched the investigations of more than 400 sex-crimes complaints made to his office.

His political fortunes started to decline significantly in 2013 when his officers were found by a federal judge to have racially profiled Latinos in Arpaio’s traffic patrols that targeted immigrants.

In his latest campaign, Arpaio got only a fraction of the campaign money he was famous for raising and was criticized for his conviction. Arpaio said many people didn’t know he was running until they saw his name on the ballot.

His platform consisted of his unwavering support for Trump and bringing back practices that the courts have either deemed illegal or his successor has ended, such as immigration crackdowns.

He also was facing a far more moderate electorate than in earlier campaigns.

In the profiling case, both Arpaio and Sheridan were found in civil contempt of court for disobeying a 2011 court order to stop the sheriff’s immigration patrols, leading to Arpaio’s criminal contempt conviction in 2017. Sheridan wasn’t charged with criminal contempt.

Arpaio and Sheridan vigorously dispute the contempt findings. Sheridan, a 38-year veteran of the sheriff’s office who retired after Arpaio was defeated in 2016, said he was unaware of the highly publicized court order and didn’t run the unit that carried out the immigration patrols.

Sheridan said he could help turn around the tarnished law enforcement agency and insisted that he is his own man.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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