Morning Poll: Has Congressional Candidate Matt Salmon Cowered to Arizona Politics -- and Joe Arpaio?

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Since last week, we've been pestering the campaign of Congressional candidate Matt Salmon for an explanation of his recent switcheroo when it comes to how he feels about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio recently endorsed Salmon in the District 6 Congressional race, which was a bit of a shocker for county political observers considering the two -- until last week -- apparently couldn't stand each other.

The pair, despite both being Republicans, have been political enemies since Arpaio cozied up to former Governor Janet Napolitano when Salmon ran against her in the 2002 governor's race.

Salmon even chaired the campaign of W. Steve Martin when he challenged Arpaio in the 2004 sheriff's race.

As recently as 2005, Salmon's bashed the sheriff, saying, "I don't respect [Arpaio]. I don't think he's playing with a full deck."

In 2003, when asked about Arpaio, Salmon said, "Do I care for Arpaio? Do I like him? No."

He then compared him to Mayberry's bumbling top deputy, Barney Fife.

See more Arpaio bashing -- courtesy of Salmon -- here.

Now that he's running for Congress, Salmon's changed his tune about the sheriff -- whose endorsement, by former GOP Executive Director Brett Mecum's assessment, is worth roughly $2,000 on Maricopa County's political black market.

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been a tireless advocate for the safety of Maricopa County citizens for almost two decades," Salmon says -- now that he's running for Congress. "He understands how important it is to protect our national borders against illegal immigration and he knows I will make that a top priority in Washington. I am grateful for his confidence in my ability to represent the best interests of our communities."

Arpaio, like it or not, is a powerful guy in Maricopa County, thanks to his tough stance on immigration, and his endorsement for a Republican candidate is priceless, despite the price-tag Mecum allegedly put on it.

It appears Salmon has abandoned his position as a rare Republican courageous enough to stand up to the sheriff, and has now cowered to politics -- and Arpaio.

However, as one reader commented yesterday, "I'm sure a lot has happened between Matt and Sheriff Joe the last five years. People, things, and circumstances change."

We wouldn't know what may -- or may not -- have gone on between the sheriff and the former congressman over the past five years because Salmon's campaign refuses to discuss his new-found love for Arpaio. More on that here.

Since Salmon's campaign refuses to comment, we'll put it to a vote: is Salmon cowering to Arizona politics and abandoning his position as a rare Republican willing to stand up to a corrupt -- but powerful -- member of his own party? Or "has a lot happened between Matt
and Sheriff Joe the last five years" that could have changed Salmon's opinion of Arpaio.

Keep in mind that the most notable (gulp) accomplishments of Arpaio's last five years are using taxpayer money to go after political opponents and costing the county nearly $750,000 in legal settlements in less than 24 hours.

Cast your vote below.

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