Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio on Sunday announced he would seek another term as sheriff of Maricopa County, two years after President Donald Trump pardoned him. He had been convicted on charges of criminal contempt related to the hard-line tactics he used to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
“After consultation and approval from my wife of 61 years, Ava, I have decided to run to be reelected Sheriff,” Arpaio said in a news release Sunday. “Watch out world! We are back!”
Arpaio – who calls himself “America’s toughest Sheriff” – pledges his reelection will bring back some of his most controversial policing tools, including Tent City – the infamous outdoor jail where inmates wore pink underwear and shuffled around in chain gangs. The facility became a symbol of Arpaio’s 24-year tenure as sheriff. Critics have said the facility was demeaning for inmates, who stayed in scorching heat and ate calorie-controlled meals.
“I will continue to stand and fight to do the right thing for Arizona and America, and will never surrender,” he said. “Those who break the law will have to deal with this Sheriff.”
Arpaio, a vocal proponent of Trump’s presidency, echoed the President’s message Sunday, stating his goal as sheriff would be to “Make Maricopa County Safe Again.” Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017 before he was sentenced for being in contempt of court for continuing to make immigration arrests after a court ordered him to stop.
“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement after Arpaio’s pardon. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”
In 2018, Arpaio tried to leverage his national profile into an Arizona Senate run, but lost to Martha McSally in the state’s Republican primary. Still, his campaign announcement Sunday emphasized ambition beyond Arizona – stressing the need for “tough policing” across the country.
“The last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this county needs,” Arpaio said. “Once back in office, I will use my position to restore pride to our law enforcement ranks, not only here, in the fourth-largest county in America, but across the country.”
Paul Penzone, the current sheriff of Maricopa County who ousted Arpaio in 2016, is expected to run for reelection.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Madison Park and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the date of Arpaio's pardon.