Joe Arpaio loses third bid back in city mayoral race

PHOENIX (AP) — Joe Arpaio, the 90-year-old former Arizona sheriff who was once a powerful figure in Republican politics but was ousted nearly six years ago amid frustration over his headline-grabbing tactics and legal problems. , was defeated Wednesday in a race for mayor of the affluent suburb where he has lived for more than two decades.

His loss in the Fountain Hills mayoral race against two-term incumbent Ginny Dickey marks Arpaio’s third unsuccessful comeback attempt since his 2016 loss after serving 24 years as Maricopa County sheriff.

Although election officials say all the votes in Maricopa County have been counted, Arpaio said Wednesday night that he would not concede the race and would instead consult with an attorney to explore whether to challenge the results.

“I’m not saying I’m going to do it,” Arpaio said of a legal challenge. “I am not a lawyer. I just want a little information. In the current environment, a large percentage of people are not happy with the way the (electoral) system worked.”

Dickey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The political stakes of running in Fountain Hills, a majority Republican city of 24,000, were much lower for Arpaio than when he served as the top law enforcement officer in a county of more than 4 million people.

Arpaio was crushed by a Democratic challenger in 2016 and was convicted the following year of criminal contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols targeting immigrants, though he was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.

Arpaio then finished third in a Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018 and second in the Republican primary in a 2020 bid to regain the sheriff’s seat.

In his first two comeback attempts, Arpaio lost the vote in Fountain Hills.

Arpaio, a skilled political fundraiser who spent more than $12 million on his 2016 sheriff’s campaign, shelled out $161,000 on the mayoral race, six times the amount Dickey spent.

Before the federal government and the courts stripped him of his immigration powers, Arpaio led 20 large-scale traffic patrols targeting immigrants and more than 80 business raids to arrest people working in the United States without permission.

While his defiant streak played well with voters for many years, Arpaio faced heavy criticism for adopting policies he knew were controversial and racking up $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal bills.

Though he billed himself as America’s toughest sheriff, his agency botched investigations of more than 400 sex crime complaints filed with his office.

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