The controversial sheriff who Donald Trump pardoned has announced he is running for the US Senate to help “Make America Great Again”.
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio – who the Justice Department claims oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in US history – said he would run for the Senate in Arizona next year.
“I am running for the U.S. 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,” Mr Arpaio tweeted on Tuesday.
The announcement puts him in the middle of a crowded Republican primary race to replace current Arizona Senator Jeff Flake – a frequent critic of Mr Trump. US Representative Martha McSally and former state Senator Kelli Ward are both vying for the seat.
Mr Arpaio told the Washington Examiner that he planned to “work hard” and not “take anything for granted” in the race.
“But I would not being doing this if I thought that I could not win,” he added. “I’m not here to get my name in the paper, I get that everyday, anyway.”
Mr Arpaio was Mr Trump’s first pardon, and one of his first supporters. He was convicted of criminal contempt of court last year for defying a court order to stop his officers from detaining people based solely on suspicion of their immigration status.
The former sheriff’s strict stance on immigration helped catapult him to national fame, and into the President’s good graces. During his six terms in office, Mr Arpaio led an office that with “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos,” according to the Justice Department.
Under Mr Arpaio’s tenure, Latino drivers were unfairly targeted for traffic stops, and Spanish-speaking prisoners were punished for failing to understand officer’s orders in English. Inmates were occasionally forced to wear pink underwear and sleep in sweltering “tent cities” as punishment.