Tough-talking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said on Tuesday that he would not run for Arizona governor, instead opting to seek a seventh term as sheriff.
"I have made one of the most important decisions of my life," Arpaio said at the start of a solicitation email to supporters. "After much prayer and discussion with my wife, Ava, and many close friends and advisers, I have decided that I will once again run for sheriff."
Arpaio, 81, who was first elected in 1992, told Newsmax earlier this month
that he was considering a bid to succeed Gov. Jan Brewer after she said she would not seek a third term as the state's top Republican after five years in office.
Term limits bar Brewer, 69, from seeking a third term. She succeeded Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2009 when she became secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama. Brewer then won a full term in 2010.
"If I'm ever going to do it, I should do it now," Arpaio said in an exclusive Newsmax interview. "I don't want to wait until I'm 86 years old."
He said that he had raised $3.5 million last year for a possible gubernatorial campaign and that he would soon release a position paper "that would show what I would do if I were the governor."
"If I decide to run, it would give the public some idea of what I have in mind, what my platform would be," Arpaio said.
The self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," Arpaio is known nationally for his strict treatment of jail inmates and for cracking down on illegal immigration.
On Monday, a federal district court judge rebuked Arpaio
and a top aide for defying an order issued last year to stop singling out Latinos during routine patrols, traffic stops, and workplace raids.
Judge Murray Snow referenced an Oct. 18 training session in which he said Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan appeared to suggest that rank-and-file deputies weren't obliged to make their best efforts to remedy the agency's constitutional violations.
Snow concluded 10 months ago that Arpaio's office has systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols and unreasonably prolonged the detentions of people during traffic stops.
Arpaio has vigorously denied the racial-profiling allegations and has appealed the ruling.
In the solicitation email sent on Tuesday, Arpaio cautioned that he would seek another four-year term as the county's top law-enforcement officer "only if I have your continued support. Without your pledge and support, I won't be able to win."
He predicted that the 2016 election "will certainly not be an easy election. My opponents are already lined up against me and will cross any line to see me defeated."
Referring to the email recipients as "patriots," Arpaio cited several examples of what he said was a "massive show of force" by such "opponents" — including the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that led to Snow's ruling last year.
He also charged that "celebrity lefties" such as civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, comedian George Lopez, and singer Linda Ronstadt are "using their Hollywood megaphone to slander my name and reputation."
There's also "a hostile national and local press corps that actually gets the weather right more than anything they report about me," Arpaio said.
"We've seen what they will do to take me down, and I have no doubt that this is going to be the toughest re-election battle of my career," he added.
He asked recipients to sign a pledge of support and to contribute to his campaign. Arpaio said he would need to raise at least $4 million "to have a fighting chance."
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