Sheriff Joe Arpaio mulls over decision to run for Arizona Govern

Sheriff Joe Arpaio mulls over decision to run for Arizona Governor?

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Tough-talking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told Newsmax on Wednesday that he is considering a run for Arizona governor now that Jan Brewer has said that she would not seek a third term as the state's top Republican after five years in office.

"If I'm ever going to do it, I should do it now," Arpaio, 81, said in an exclusive interview. "I don't want to wait until I'm 86 years old.

If I'm going to do it, the only problem is that I have to resign as sheriff," he added. "I have a lot of things going on, a lot of sensitive things going on."

Arpaio declined to be more specific — only saying: "If I leave, it's all going to be in vain. So I have to weigh that."

The self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America," Arpaio has held the job since 1993 and is known nationally for his strict treatment of jail inmates and for cracking down on illegal immigration.

He told Newsmax that he raised $3.5 million last year for a possible gubernatorial campaign and that he planned to release a position paper next week "that would show what I would do if I were the governor.

"If I decide to run, it would give the public some idea of what I have in mind, what my platform would be," Arpaio said.

Several other Republicans have entered the primary race for governor under the assumption that Brewer would not run again.

They include Arizona State Treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, former GoDaddy legal counsel Christine Jones, state Sen. Al Melvin, and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

In making her announcement, Brewer, 69, ended months of speculation on whether she might challenge the Arizona constitution to seek a third term. The constitution limits governors to two four-year terms. 

"There does come a time to pass the torch of leadership," Brewer said at a news conference at an elementary school just outside Phoenix. "So, after completing this term in office, I will be doing just that.

"My job as governor is far from over," she added. "Both my pen and my veto stamp have plenty of ink."

In 2009, Brewer succeeded Gov. Janet Napolitano when she became Homeland Security Director under President Barack Obama. Brewer then won a full term in 2010.

She had said that there was "ambiguity" in the state constitution, since she had not served two full terms.

"I haven't ruled it out, and I've been encouraged by people — legal scholars and other people — that it's probably something that I ought to pursue," Brewer told the Arizona Republic in a 2012 interview. 

Several of the state's Republican legislators praised Brewer for her service to the Grand Canyon State.

"First entering public service as a mother concerned about the workings of her local school board, Gov. Brewer has served with distinction at every level of state and local government over the last three decades," Sen. John McCain, the state's senior senator, said in a statement.

Rep. Paul Gosar, one of four GOP congressman, told Newsmax in a statement that "I hope whoever succeeds her as governor will continue to pursue the conservative policies of smaller government, lower taxes and a simpler regulatory environment, so the private sector can grow and create jobs."

Throughout a political career that has spanned more than three decades, Brewer has served on the Maricopa Board of Supervisors, in both the Arizona House of Representatives and the Senate — including three years as majority whip. Before becoming governor, she was secretary of state.

Brewer became interested in politics after attending a county school board meeting. She made her announcement on Wednesday at the elementary school that her children once attended.

Her years as in the Arizona Statehouse have been filled with controversy.

Just last month, Brewer vetoed a religious protection bill that critics charged would have allowed businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples and others based on their sexual orientation.

The bill, approved the week before by the Arizona Legislature, was railed against by a broad coalition of businesses, gay-rights organizations — even the National Football League, which is scheduled to hold the Super Bowl in the Phoenix area next year.

Both McCain and the state's other senator, Republican Jeff Flake, opposed the bill. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, also spoke against the legislation.

"Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona," Brewer said in announcing her veto. "I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner's religious liberty has been violated."

She then attacked the bill as a broadly worded proposal that "could result in unintended and negative consequences."

In 2010, Brewer signed a bill cracking down on illegal immigration that required authorities to check the status of those whom they suspected were in the U.S. illegally, and to arrest those whom they believed were eligible to be deported.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 1070, spurred calls for boycotts and charges of racism by civil-rights organizations and other groups. While the Supreme Court later struck down portions of the law, it let stand the part that requires police to ask about immigration status.

"Senate Bill 1070 doesn't solve the problem" of illegal immigration, Brewer said in a 2012 interview just before the high court heard the case. "We need to address those issues. How we address them, I have no answer for you."

In addition, Brewer sparred with the White House over Obamacare — and was involved in a testy exchange with the president while greeting him alongside Air Force One in 2012, famously wagging her finger in President Obama's face.

The incident concerned the president's criticism of how Brewer had described their June 2010 meeting in the Oval Office in her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America's Border."

"We sat down and started with some chitchat," Brewer said in the book, published in October 2011. "But after a few minutes, the president's tone got serious — and condescending . . . . He lectured me."

At the time, Brewer had described their conversation as cordial, perhaps not wanting to go public with her true thoughts.

But the governor also has upset many conservative voters in the state — surprising many, for instance, when she embraced a key part of Obamacare, an expansion of Medicaid for low-income residents.

After a battle with the GOP-controlled legislature, Brewer put together a group of Democrats and a few Republicans to get the measure adopted, even though leaders would not let it come to a vote.

She finally pushed it through last June after calling a special session to get around the recalcitrant GOP House and Senate leaders.

About 300,000 more Arizonans are now eligible to sign up for Medicaid — and a lawsuit challenging the expansion filed by Republicans was thrown out last month by a county circuit court judge.


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