Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu may well be the worst candidate Republicans could have run in the relatively moderate First Congressional District, where Democrats hold a narrow registration advantage. A right-wing extremist who carries more baggage than a Boeing 747, Babeu fits CD1 like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fits a Catwoman outfit (or a softball uniform).
In August, Babeu bested a wide field of rivals in the GOP primary with a plurality of 33 percent of the vote. It's never a good sign when two-thirds of voters in your party prefer someone else. And it's an even worse sign when your negatives are so high that the National Republican Congressional Committee refuses to spend dime one on your behalf.
Polls show Babeu's Democratic rival Tom O'Halleran anywhere from 7 to 10 points ahead; and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democrats' House Majority PAC (which should be named the Wannabe-House Majority PAC) have dumped millions into CD1, hoping to retain the seat being vacated by Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in her quixotic bid to retire Arizona's senior U.S. senator, John McCain.
Though O'Halleran is hardly the most polished of pols, it's looking like he'll shellac Babeu like a walnut end table on PBS's American Woodshop.
But in case you're reading this from CD1, haven't voted, and are on the fence, here are five things to consider about Babeu before you vote:
1. The damning 1999 home video, shot by Babeu's sister Lucy, which — despite his previous denials — proves that Babeu had knowledge of physical and mental abuse at the infamous DeSisto School for wayward teens in Massachusetts, where he worked as headmaster and executive director.
2. The anti-immigrant Babeu had an affair with a Mexican man, Jose Orozco, who apparently was living in the United States on an expired visa. Babeu allegedly threatened to deport Orozco if the latter exposed Babeu's then-closeted homosexuality. Babeu denies any wrongdoing. 3. Babeu posted half-naked selfies to the pickup site Adam4Adam.com, calling himself "studboi1" and describing his penis. Orozco claims Babeu sent him a photo of said wiener when Orozco posed as a stranger on the site.
4. According to ABC 15 and the Casa Grande Dispatch, the FBI has subpoenaed records having to do with the use of RICO funds by a foundation with close ties to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and Babeu.
5. Babeu helped fan flames of xenophobia when he claimed that the U.S. government planned to send a busload of Central American children with asylum claims to a facility outside of Oracle. Egged on by Babeu, local rednecks vowed to block any such buses. The children didn't materialize, but the rednecks managed to scare a busful of American kids who happened to pass by.