Sheriff Joe Arpaio is perhaps Arizona’s most vociferous, ardent supporter of the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Sheriff Joe, as he is known, has received national attention for his extremely tough stance on immigrants and prison inmates with many around the country accusing him of being inhumane.
The Maricopa County sheriff has a race of his own as he is running for re-election and he is trailing his Democratic challenger by 15 points in the Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll released on Thursday. The Arizona Republic is the state’s conservative right paper which endorsed a Democrat for president this year — Hillary Clinton — for the first time in 120 years.
The 84 year old Arpaio is seeking his seventh term as sheriff of Arizona’s largest county. His tough stance on immigration and clashes with the federal government which have garnered him national notoriety over the years, particularly with conservatives and anti-immigration activists, have also landed him in a lot of hot water.
Last week, reports surfaced that the Department of Justice is planning on charging the sheriff with criminal contempt after he and his deputies allegedly ignored court orders to halt racial profiling following a case over immigration policy.
Clearly, for Trump, it is not good news that his biggest supporter in Arizona is going to be charged criminally for discriminatory practices. However, what is even more concerning to Camp Trump is what the poll numbers could be foreshadowing.
Arpaio has won his previous races with relative ease despite the fact that he has continuously had the very same controversial policies and practices. For him to be trailing a Democrat by such a wide margin is telling of the changing political climate in Arizona.
Another Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll released on Wednesday shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in a four way race by 5 points. While the Arizona Republican Party has dismissed this latest poll as an outlier, Thursday’s poll also tested Arpaio — and Trump’s — positions, and found that at least in Maricopa County, there was low voter support for them.
For example, 44 percent of registered voters in the county say that a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — the cornerstone of Trump’s campaign — should “definitely not” be built. Conversely, only 13 percent of voters support the building of a wall.
To add insult to injury, even John McCain who continued to endorse Trump after he had insulted him by saying he is not a war hero because he got captured, and even after he insulted a Gold Star family, pulled his endorsement earlier this month using the leaked ‘Access Hollywood’ recordings as his excuse. However, some experts say that the recording was more an excuse than principles, and that it is a clear sign that latching onto Trump in his senatorial race is a political liability.
Arpaio’s campaign manager, Chad Willems, attacked the survey showing his candidate’s substantial deficit, saying it “doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to anybody who knows anything about politics and campaigns in Maricopa County … It is so screwed up it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on, with all due respect.” Willems predicts that Arpaio will win his re-election bid in a landslide.