Sheriff Joe vs. Candy Thomas at the "Duel in the Desert" county Republican Party fundraiser

By Jonathan McNamara

About 250 Republicans showed up to chow down on steaks and endure a "duel in the desert" between conservative poster boys Joe Arpaio and Andrew Thomas as part of a Maricopa County Republican Party fund-raiser at Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse on Saturday.

See Sheriff Joe go through the motions with Candy in this faux gun fight.

Participants, who had forked over anywhere from $50 to $150 to get in, dined on a selection of "cowboy" fare, including steaks, beans, wheat bread and cake. Once attendees had sated their appetites, it was time to stomach the night's "entertainment," which promised a "paint-ball duel" between the sheriff and county attorney and an auction.

The auction began with signed copies of Arpaio's book Joe's Law: America's Toughest Sheriff Takes on Illegal Immigration, Drugs and Everything Else That Threatens America going for more than $150 each.

Thomas and Arpaio helped the auctioneer unload a few signed bandanas before moving on to the auction's comfiest item: Tent City sweat shorts.

Arpaio held up a pair of hot-pink shorts with his and Thomas' names written in black felt-tip and preceded to run down his list of notable wearers, much to his own delight. His name-drops included rapper DMX, arrested Saturday on theft of services and identity-theft charges, and the owners of New Times, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, arrested by Joe's deputies on a bogus complaint last year after they wrote a story on malfeasance in Thomas' office related to then-Special Prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik (also, not coincidentally, one of Arpaio's taxpayer-funded private attorneys).

Arpaio chuckled a bit as he turned to the crowd and said, "I'm going to sell a pair of these to Obama."

Sure you are, Joke.

Arpaio put a little pressure on the auctioneer with a zinger aimed at gays when he remarked that a pair of pink sweat shorts "go for $1,000 in San Francisco."

Arpaio and Thomas stand with the proud owner of a pair of Tent City shorts.

All the items auctioned at that point had brought $1,700. County Republican Party Chairman Tom Husband said the money (and, presumably, whatever profit was realized from the entry fees) would be used to "defeat the Democrats."

Husband then produced a pair of air-soft pistols (not paint-ball guns, as advertised) and proceeded to position the top prosecutor and the lawman back-to-back to begin what would result in a half-assed skit.

Husband instructs the gunfighters to take four paces away from each other, turn and fire the pistols (which shoot plastic BBs). Only he had to pause Arpaio and Thomas before shots rang out to position a deputy who'd forgotten his cue to stand next to Thomas. Once all the players were in position, Husband counted to three. Arpaio and Thomas drew and shot, which resulted in a few pathetic moans from the deputies as they fell to floor bleeding from blood packs on their chests.

"What went wrong?" Husband exclaimed, as the two deputies writhed on the floor like children on the losing end of a game of cowboys and Indians.

Husband approached Thomas and said, "Oh, I know... You told me you were the fastest, you didn't say you were the most accurate."

Husband alluded to a rematch fund-raiser in September. Hopefully Arpaio and Thomas will have learned to shoot straight by then. We can hardly wait.

After the shootout, Arpaio and Thomas sign the guns used so they can be auctioned.

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Jonathan McNamara