Pariah Joe

Dan Saban turns over materials to the FBI showing alleged improprieties by Arpaio and the MCSO.

"There's a terrific hiring problem, and we don't think it's going to ease up at all," says Brian Livingston, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, which represents more than 6,500 police officers across the state.

Saban, meanwhile, wants to parlay his newly earned political stature into an appointment as U.S. Marshal for Arizona. The current marshal, David Gonzales, is on Governor Janet Napolitano's short list to become head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety early next year when the contract for director Dennis Garrett expires.

McCain will play a key role in a possible Marshal appointment because he will nominate a candidate to the president. The senator took time out a few hours before the Bush-Kerry debate last Thursday to return my call to discuss several issues, including Saban's desire to be considered for the post.

"Everything I know about Saban is he's a fine guy," McCain says. "But usually I kind of go slow on these things because I want to make sure we have the best-qualified people who want the job."

While Joe licks his wounds and Saban jockeys for position, what are voters to do in the upcoming general election?

Police organizations that endorsed Saban in the primary are refusing to back either of Arpaio's opponents in the general election -- Democrat Bobby Ayala and Independent W. Steven Martin.

It's rather depressing that even though Outlaw Joe's own detention officers' union despises him, the organization is not getting involved in the upcoming contest.

"We had the guy [Saban] that deserved to win, and we just can't find anything in these other two that gives us something we can support," says Michael Culhane, president of the Deputies Law Enforcement Association. The Arizona Police Association is taking the same stance, says Livingston.

Some Republican Party leaders who endorsed Saban in the primary are also sitting out endorsing in the race, even though Maricopa County Republican boss Tom Liddy says Arpaio has the party's full support.

Liddy, son of G. Gordon Liddy of Watergate infamy, is having a difficult time holding the troops in line when it comes to Arpaio.

"We are not going to support him in the general election," say Republican District 22 chairman Bill Norton -- who led a revolt against Arpaio after the sheriff publicly supported Democrat Napolitano in the 2002 gubernatorial race over Republican nominee Matt Salmon. Hardcore Republicans want Arpaio's hide for what is considered that unpardonable sin.

"But we are not going to come out against him," Norton says, "because in doing that, we would be doing the same thing we accused him of doing when he backed Napolitano."

Other Republican leaders are suggesting writing in Saban's name as a protest. Saban, however, cannot formally run as a write-in candidate because he ran in the primary.

Although it is all but certain that Arpaio will win November 2, Saban believes the sheriff is far from out of the legal woods for four more years.

Now, all that is needed is for a federal grand jury to start calling in Arpaio's inner circle of deputies and begin grilling them.

If that happens, Saban claims, Outlaw Joe's toast.

"If you put cops before a grand jury," Saban predicts, "they will bail on Joe in a second."

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