There could be a new horse in the race to become the next sheriff of Maricopa County -- retired Phoenix Sergeant/Nancy Grace suck-up Paul Penzone has filed paperwork with the Maricopa County Recorder's Office to set up an exploratory committee for a potential run to unseat Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio -- at 79 years old -- announced last week that he plans to seek a sixth term as sheriff, despite a rather humiliating 2011 for the MCSO under his (gulp) leadership (a Mexican drug cartel infiltrating his office, a scathing Department of Justice report claiming he's guilty of the worst racial-profiling practices in U.S. history, and the fallout from the Munnell Memo, etc.).
Aside from his time with the Phoenix Police Department, where he was the "face" of Silent Witness, Penzone served as the Chief Operations Officer for notMYkid, a (supposedly) non-profit organization aimed at educating parents and children of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse (the organization was founded by one-time Republican Congressional candidate Steve Moak. Click here to see our story on how Moak used notMYkid as a marketing arm for his for-profit company that produces home drug testing kits).
Penzone's not Arpaio's only potential challenger -- Scottsdale Lieutenant Mike Stauffer also plans to try and unseat America's priciest sheriff in the November 6 election.
Stauffer, a 28-year police veteran, started his campaign to unseat Arpaio last year.
A life-long Republican, Stauffer switched party affiliation in October, and is now running as an Independent to avoid having to face Arpaio in a GOP primary -- where Arpaio's far-right-wing-nut, blue-haired base would likely make up the majority of those voting.
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Check out some of our coverage of his campaign here.
Both Stauffer and Penzone have an uphill battle if they want to bring down the Arpaio regime -- despite his embarrassing year (and the fact that he'll be 80 when his next term would begin), the sheriff claims he's already got about $6 million in his campaign coffers.
Attempts to reach Penzone this afternoon were unsuccessful.