Joe Arpaio, the controversial former Arizona sheriff who received a pardon from President Donald Trump in August after being convicted of contempt of court, announced Tuesday he was running for the Republican nomination for the US Senate.
“I am running for the US Senate from the Great State of Arizona, for one unwavering reason: to support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again,” the 85-year-old self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” wrote on Twitter.
The former Maricopa County sheriff was voted out of office in 2016 after 23 years. He was later found guilty of criminal contempt by a federal judge for refusing to halt a policing tactic to catch undocumented immigrants.
Arpaio, who had garnered national attention for his anti-immigrant policies, was an early supporter of President Trump, who issued his first pardon in August to spare the former lawman from a possible six months in prison.
“I have a lot to offer. I’m a big supporter of President Trump,” Arpaio told the Washington Examiner in announcing his candidacy.
“I’m going to have to work hard; you don’t take anything for granted. But I would not be doing this if I thought that I could not win. I’m not here to get my name in the paper — I get that every day, anyway.”
Arpaio is best known for his infamous Tent City, an encampment for prison inmates who were issued pink underwear. He also conducted workplace raids that targeted businesses employing Latinos in an effort to arrest undocumented immigrants.
“Being a US senator is a little different than being the sheriff, because you can do a lot of things in the US Senate, and I have many plans, believe me,” Arpaio told the Examiner.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona has announced he is not running for reelection.
During Tuesday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she would not comment on Arpaio’s Senate bid.
“I’m not going to weigh into the details of that race or make comments on something that would affect that front,” Sanders told reporters.
Flake told the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic he wouldn’t be supporting Arpaio.
Carlos Garcia, executive director of Puente Human Rights Movement an immigrant advocacy group that helped push Arpaio out of office, said the former sheriff’s intent to run was nothing more than a desperate attempt to save his failed legacy.
“Arpaio clearly did not get the memo from voters who booted him out of office in 2016 and will meet the same fate running for US Senate,” Garcia said in a statement. “Arpaio is desperate and grasping to save a failed legacy. This is one place where President Trump cannot save him or pardon him into this seat.”
Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez said Arpaio, who spent his career tearing apart immigrant families and devastating Latino communities, has no place in the US Senate.
“Arpaio is one of our nation’s most notorious agents of racism and bigotry,” Perez said. “ Joe Arpaio’s prejudice didn’t deserve a pardon from President Trump, and it certainly doesn’t deserve a US Senate seat.”
This is a developing news story. Check back for updates or follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
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