Last night at the Hyatt Regency in Phoenix, 80-year-old Sheriff Joe Arpaio recycled the same ol' Joe speech he gives all the time -- a speech that apparently resonates with the voters who opted for Arpaio over his opponent, Paul Penzone, by a healthy margin.
All we could really do was stand in front of him and laugh during this -- drawing stares of death from the sheriff and his wife -- while Arpaio explained for the billionth time, to cheers, that he's "just enforcing the laws."
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Which part of Arpaio's résumé did the voters love so much? The jail conditions? Jail deaths? The botched sex-crime investigations? The racial profiling? The bogus investigations into political foes? The jailing of newspaper owners? The authorization of a completely fake investigation into the president's birth certificate? The millions upon millions of dollars wasted? The other "Nickel Bag Joe"-caliber stuff that we detail on this blog at least once a week? Pretty much anything found in the New Times investigative file on Arpaio?
All sounds good to me, according to nearly 470,000 Maricopa County voters who were included in the Maricopa County Recorder's 1 a.m. ballot-tally, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting. That's good enough for about a 10 percentage-point lead over Penzone, while independent candidate Mike Stauffer picked up the scraps for about 4 percent of the vote.
Sure, Arpaio raised an elaborate amount of money -- millions, for a county sheriff race -- but throwing money at Republican consultant Chad Willems probably can't create thousands of pro-Arpaio voters.
Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell told 3TV that between provisional ballots cast, and early ballots dropped off on election day, there are still 175,000 votes to be counted. That probably won't make up an 88,000-vote deficit for Penzone, either. We've also heard some horror stories about the polling locations not exactly running efficiently, which we'll look into after the sun rises. Again, probably not even close to putting Penzone on top.
Toss in the racists and the loonies, and you're starting to add up a lot of "what ifs."
Instead, Arpaio got to act smug before the Arizona Republican Party's crowd last night at the Hyatt.
"I'm not going to talk about my opponent, I don't do that," Arpaio said, before adding that it "hasn't been a tough race" against Penzone.
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Not to worry, though -- Arpaio says he plans on running for sheriff in 2016, too (of course, assuming he makes it to the age of 84).
Penzone's campaign put the following statement on Facebook last night:
Thank you so much for your support in this campaign to determine the next Sheriff of Maricopa County. The outpouring we have received from hundreds of thousands of voters in Maricopa County has been truly humbling.
Unfortunately, it appears that we have come up short, and Joe Arpaio will continue to be the Sheriff.
However, we have sent a very important message. We have shown Joe Arpaio the priorities of the Sheriff's Office need to change. We must focus on putting criminals behind bars, rather than focusing on politics before law enforcement. We must make sure we keep our children and families safe. And we must ensure that all residents of Maricopa County are treated with dignity and respect by their law enforcement officials.
Our work is not done. We must continue to work to affect change in the way the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office conducts its business. We must demand accountability and transparency. It will be a process, and we must be diligent.
We are proud of the campaign we've run, and will be eternally grateful for all those who trusted in us.
Again, thank you.