Dan Saban outraises Joe in dough, and why Arpaio still hearts Shaquille O'Neal.

Arpaio-foe Dan Saban, on the stump, pummeling Joe every chance he gets, and out-raising him in the recent pre-primary report.

Flying under the media radar last week was the fact that Sheriff Joe-foe Dan Saban quietly out-raised Arpaio in the latest report turned into the Maricopa County Elections Department, the so-called "Pre-Primary Report," covering the period from June 1 to August 13 of this year.

For this date range, Joe had total receipts of $34, 812.58.

Saban, however, had total receipts of $39, 246.67.

True, Arpaio has a lot more money on hand. To be exact, his cash total at the end of this latest reporting period is $374,832.83.

Saban's dolo in-pocket is only $24,553.83, by comparison. But instead of looking at the totals, consider the trends. Arpaio's approval ratings have been on a steady decline, dropping ten points from 64 percent in March of 2007 to 54 percent at the beginning of August, according to the BRC/Rocky Mountain Poll. Also, the lion's share of Arpaio's loot was raked in before January 31, 2008. By that time, he already had about $260K garnered during 2006 and 2007.

Essentially, Arpaio peaked way too early. His poll numbers have slipped considerably since the beginning of the year, negatively influencing his ability to raise campaign contributions. Saban's now being seen more as a contender. One Republican power broker recently told me in confidence regarding Arpaio that whenever any incumbent gets close to 50 percent in the polls, the lights are flashing red. The undecided vote will break for the challenger, leaving the incumbent in the dust, he opined.

The scenario may seem a tad rosy. After all, Arpaio has a lot of money to waste, and you can bet he will hit Saban long and hard with negative advertising. On the other hand, I suspect it will be overkill. Joe gets way too much free media coverage as it is, and Arpaio fatigue is sure to set in as we see his wrinkled ugly mug ad nauseam from Labor Day till November 4.

On another note, this week, I'll be watching to see if Arpaio shoots his mouth off about this situation with Shaquille O'Neal being hit with a restraining order by an Atlanta-area hip-hop artist. Remember how Joe wanted Shaq's ceremonial (and likely, on Shaq's part, forgotten) badges back after Shaq's anti-Kobe video hit the 'Net in June? Whatcha wanna guess he never got them back? (I mean, who cares about the stupid tin, right?) Now that Shaq's in the news again, it wouldn't surprise me at all if our publicity-addicted top constable didn't try to glom on to the story.

The way Sheriff Joe and his minions wish it could be...

Never mind that the blow-up between Shaq and this fine rapper-ess named Maryjane has nothing to do with our corrupt county LEO. It's never stopped Joe before. Just recall the Paris Hilton baloney Joe attempted a while ago.

That's why my hat's off to blogger Alex P. Keaton of the Republicans for Saban blog. (Loved you on Family Ties, bro.) Keaton recently recognized that, despite Joe's bluster and blarney about wanting his badges back from the Big Cactus, the Sheriff's reelection site features two pics of Shaq and the loony lawman together. The one of Joe and CamelShaq Mountain shaking hands is labeled, "one of the Sheriff's favorite pictures."

Talk about trying to have it both ways. I've long warned Shaq to steer clear of our vindictive Sheriff after arriving in town, as I knew Joe would love to use the Suns center as campaign prop this year. Wisely, Shaq -- who wants to be a cop after he retires from the NBA -- decided to become a reserve officer with Tempe. You know Joe's camp was ticked off once they heard about that.

Hell, if Joe's henchmen could figure out a way to arrest Shaq, they'd trump up any charge they could. Arpaio and his crew are shameless. But it is funny to note that even as they fume against the Desert Diesel, they still pine for him, as Keaton points out in his blog item. Oh, how love and hate are two sides of the same coin!

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