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Joe Arpaio Opponent Mike Stauffer to Run For Sheriff as an Independent

Scottsdale Lieutenant Mike Stauffer, the man who hopes to unseat Joe Arpaio as Maricopa County sheriff, announced Friday that he's switching party affiliation to run as an Independent.

It's probably a pretty good move -- Stauffer originally was running as a Republican, which means he would have had to face Arpaio in a GOP primary. Arpaio's brand of fruitcake, reality show sheriffin' tends to appeal to Maricopa County's far-right-wing-nuts, who would likely vote en masse for America's self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff."

Stauffer, a life-long Republican, has said from the first days of his candidacy that the office of the sheriff shouldn't be politicized -- that it's about law enforcement, not political ideologies.

In a recent New Times online town hall, Stauffer was asked whether he thought he'd have a better shot at beating Arpaio if he ran as an Independent. At the time, he dismissed the idea, saying "unfortunately, the sheriff's race is a partisan race. I have been a registered Republican since I was 18 years old and changing parties now would inject an undesirable political aspect to my campaign and distract from the real and pressing issues facing the MCSO."

He's since changed his tune, now saying "I believe that the extremist positions and the attempt to insinuate those positions into law enforcement taken by the Maricopa County Republican Committee and various Republican leaders in Maricopa County are incompatible with the principles of American law enforcement."

See Stauffer's entire statement on switching party affiliation below.

"As a 2012 candidate for the Office of the Sheriff of Maricopa County, I have taken a public stand to encourage a non-partisan race for sheriff. Law enforcement is not about partisan politics, it is about public safety, quality of life and doing the right thing. To that end, I have refiled as an Independent. While I have been a registered Republican my entire life, I believe that the extremist positions and the attempt to insinuate those positions into law enforcement taken by the Maricopa County Republican Committee and various Republican leaders in Maricopa County are incompatible with the principles of American law enforcement. It is time to change the tone of the debate and bring real, professional, impartial law enforcement leadership back to the MCSO. This move also restores the election of the sheriff back to the people of Maricopa County as a whole and not just to a small percentage of partisan voters. I look forward to debating the issues with the people of Maricopa County in the coming year."

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