With Sheriff Joe Arpaio still out of commission from his "broken arm," and with Respect Arizona's announcement today that they have 120,000 valid signatures demanding his recall, Arpaio's best career move at this point would be to resign from office for health reasons.
(Note: I first reported this via Twitter, beginning early this a.m. So, like, follow me, bitches.)
Or choke on the proverbial chicken bone. Because the recall is bearing down on him like a semi with no brakes, and as Arpaio's campaign guru Chad Willems has already admitted, if Respect Arizona scores the needed 335,317 signatures from qualified electors, then, "Joe Arpaio goes away."
According to Lilia Alvarez, the recall's campaign manager, RA has scored around 150,000 signatures total, 120,000 of which have been verified via the county's voter access network.
Standing next to an illustration showing the recall's progress in the law offices of Snow and Carpio, with recall supporters behind her, and stacks of recall petitions before her, Alvarez noted the more than 5,000 new voters registered by the effort so far.
"We are...committed to seeing justice in Maricopa County," said Alvarez at the press conference, standing next to an illustration showing the recall's progress. "This thermometer is symbolic of that. We are on the move toward justice."
She called on the public to donate money and time to removing Arpaio from office.
"We need to raise $300,000 more to carry on till May," she explained before a handful of TV cameras. "We are depending on people...sitting at home, watching this, to get committed to this effort."
However, she declined to reveal where most of the recall's $200,000 to $300,000 in donations have come from so far.
"We will report as we are legally bound to report in May," she stated. "But there are people who still feel intimidated to show their support [for the recall]."
Chad Snow, chairman of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the group responsible for the successful recall of former state Senate President Russell Pearce in 2011, denounced a fundraising letter from Arpaio to supporters that was filled with lies and name calling.
"[Arpaio] says, `We cannot allow a small band of thugs to thwart the will of the voters and erode the rule of law,'" Snow said, quoting the letter. "This isn't a small band of thugs. This is 120,000 registered voters in Maricopa County who have stood up and said...`We can't afford four more years of Joe Arpaio.'"
The recall has 85 days remaining, 215,317 valid signatures yet to collect. In fact, there's even more to collect, as Respect Arizona chairman William Fisher stated that the group's goal is 500,000 signatures overall, so as to make certain that the recall happens.
One fly in RA's ointment: county elections is remodeling, and as a result, the ten terminals currently available for petition circulators to verify signatures soon will drop to just two terminals in Mesa.
Elections director Karen Osborne said the scheduled remodel began in December, before the recall paperwork was filed. She's hoping the remodeling will be done the first week in May, and expand from 10 to 20 terminals at that time.
Meanwhile, RA will have to make do with two terminals and perhaps make use of the state Democratic Party's voter database, which is not as up-to-date as the county's records.
Osborne said she is not required to offer the terminal access, but that elections does so to "accommodate" those circulating petitions.
Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, the main group (other than RA) supporting the recall, found the situation unacceptable and wondered what would happen if the recall turned in its signatures a month early. How would they be checked? He also wondered about remote access to the data.
"Given that this is 2013, we shouldn't have to go to a physical space, if they in fact take it away," he said. "They should be able to provide some sort of log-in information, which they can monitor just as well.
"Absent that, it looks like they are putting up a roadblock to hinder and slow the recall of Sheriff Arpaio. Surprise, surprise."
In response to Parraz's suggestion about submitting sigs at the end of April, Osborne, a Democrat, quipped that, "If they turned them in a month early I would faint."
She also cited, "security concerns out the ears," when it came to the possibility of remote access.
Still, I do not believe this obstacle will prove insurmountable. Even if county elections does not rectify these circumstances to the recall's liking, a November recall election for Arpaio is looking more and more like an inevitability.
As Willems recently told a group of pro-Joe alter kockers, just about any Republican with a law enforcement background can beat Joe in a recall election.
So Joe faces the very real possibility of joining his disgraced pals on the Sand Land wall of shame: disbarred former County Attorney Andy Thomas and recall poster-boy Russell Pearce.
At least if Arpaio retires and avoids being run out of office on a hot rail, he can hope the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will appoint a fill-in friendly to him, like current Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan. You know, someone who won't be checking too closely for corpses in the closets.
Then there's the hypothetical dirt nap, which for some folks is the best career move of all. Hugo Chavez, Elvis, and Kurt Cobain come to mind. Yeah, Joe, that chicken bone is looking better and better every day.