January 28, 2011 | 10:38am
This has been quite a year for Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, the onetime Massachusetts headmaster who reinvented himself as a cop out here in the desert in the early 2000s.
Babeu became ubiquitous on national Fox News programs, especially after the high-profile and increasingly controversial April 2010 shooting incident involving his then-deputy, Louie Puroll, which we covered to death last year here
, and here.
The Puroll case could have impacted negatively on Sheriff Babeu's law enforcement "Q ratings," but it apparently hasn't.
We fully expect Paul to continue to blast the federal government for (insert broken record here) failing to "seal the borders," which are about 85 miles or so from his central Arizona jurisdiction. This, while gladly taking the feds' grant monies and other goodies.
And we also know--just know--that Babeu will be seeking higher office, quite possibly for U.S. Congress, as soon as next year. He's likable at first blush and, as long as he stays on point about his two-pronged hatred of both illegals and the feds (he is about as subtle as a toothache on this), can complete an entire thought without stumbling
Yes, he looks somewhat like a space (not an illegal!) alien, but Babeu has offered a younger, more vibrant alternative to those of like mind to the moribund antics of longtime Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Not to say he won't implode at one point or another--we're just saying.
Arpaio's ongoing heap of troubles with the U.S. Department of Justice, coupled with the loss of his capo, chief deputy Dave Hendershott--MCSO's true heavy--have rendered him a shadow of his formerly snarly self.
Which leads us to this:
Last night's newscasts and today's papers had stories on the first "crime suppression sweep" in months, by a few hundred of Joe Arpaio's deputies and volunteers.
is one of those stories.
The thought didn't enter our mind until a few law enforcement types put it there earlier this morning: It will come as no surprise to anyone--pro or anti-Joe--that the dude, Arpaio that is, has the overtly largest ego of just about anyone around these parts.
He has been The Man for a long time, at long last having shed his "Nickle Bag Joe" rep as an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (Arpaio liked to make a big deal out of penny-ante busts back in the day).
Our sources--who are just putting two-and-two together--surmise that the timing of the "sweep" is not coincidental, that Arpaio just couldn't stomach the notion of Paul Fucking Babeu getting yet more TV face time for being the first Arizona sheriff to win the award.
We wouldn't bet against it.