PHOENIX — 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 tactics that make headlines and his legal troubles, was beaten on Wednesday in a race for mayor of the affluent suburb where he has lived for more than two decades.
Her loss in the Fountain Hills mayoral race to two-term incumbent Ginny Dickey marks Arpaio’s third failed comeback attempt since losing in 2016 after serving 24 years as Maricopa County sheriff.
Even though election officials say all votes in Maricopa County have been counted, Arpaio said Wednesday night that he was not conceding the race and would instead consult with an attorney to determine whether to challenge the results. .
“I’m not saying I’m going to,” Arpaio said of a legal challenge. “I am not a lawyer. I just want a little information. In today’s environment, a large percentage of the population is not happy with the way the (electoral) system worked.
Dickey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The political stakes of the race in Fountain Hills, a densely populated Republican town of 24,000, were much lower for Arpaio than when he was the top law enforcement official for a county of more than 4 million. of inhabitants.
Arpaio was run over by a Democratic challenger in 2016 and was found guilty the following year of contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order to stop traffic patrols that targeted immigrants, although he was later pardoned by then-President Donald Trump.
Arpaio went on to finish third in a Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018 and second in the GOP primary in a 2020 bid to win back the office of sheriff.
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 in 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 trade raids to arrest people working in the United States without permission.
While his defiant streak has played well with voters for many years, Arpaio has come under heavy criticism for enacting policies he knows are controversial and racking up $147 million in taxpayer-funded legal bills. .
Despite billing himself as America’s toughest sheriff, his agency has botched investigations into more than 400 sex crime complaints filed with his office.