Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has proudly described himself as the toughest sheriff in America. Critics call him the most racist sheriff in America. Regardless of what you call the man Maricopa County residents know as Sheriff Joe, poll numbers now indicate that a long history of racial profiling and xenophobic policy stances may soon cost him his job.
Arpaio was first elected as sheriff in 1992 and has won subsequent elections. However, a string of legal woes and questionable stances have finally caused voters to lose patience with Arpaio. The 2012 election was the closest he had ever had in his tenure as sheriff, winning by a narrow margin with less than fifty percent of the popular vote. As Election Day 2016 approaches, it’s clear that Arpaio looks to be in even more trouble.
According to a poll recently released by Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News, Democratic challenger Paul Penzone is ahead of Arpaio by a comfortable 15 points. Current numbers show Penzone leads the race with 46 percent of votes compared to Arpaio’s 31 percent. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that Penzone’s lead grew from a ten point spread to fifteen points in just 48 hours thanks to his opponent’s racist comments, actions, and policy stands. These numbers follow an August poll that found 57.3 percent of registered Maricopa County voters viewed Arpaio as unfavorable or very unfavorable. Signs are pointing to a Penzone victory on Election Day.
Despite the obvious loss of voters’ trust, Arpaio continues to burnish his image as the most racist sheriff in America. He has touted his position that every undocumented resident living in Arizona should be deported even though 68 percent of surveyed voters disagree. He was recently charged with contempt of court by a federal judge when he refused to obey an order to avoid targeting and racially profiling Hispanics in Maricopa County.
This election cycle has been screwy, and Arizona is one of many states still up for grabs in the national presidential election. Yet the writing on the wall is clear for Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It looks like Election Day will be the end of the line for the most racist sheriff in America.