The 86-year-old hardliner had much in common with Trump, who pardoned him, but trailed in third in the Senate primary
Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa county, liked to say he had never lost a Republican primary. On Tuesday, that changed.
The 86-year-old, once a symbol of Arizonas hardline stance on illegal immigration, finished last in a three-way race for a Senate nomination in Arizona. In Maricopa county, where he was sheriff for nearly a quarter-century, he received less than 18% of the vote.
It was an unceremonious end to the 60-year law enforcement career of a man who called himself Americas toughest sheriff, and who brought reality TV stunts and anti-immigrant tactics to national prominence long before Donald Trump, his political soulmate, arrived on the scene.
He has done so much harm hate politics, dividing families, targeting the most vulnerable, said Alejandra Gomez, a co-executive director of the advocacy group Living United for Change in Arizona, who was a part of Bazta Arpaio, an immigrant-led effort to oust him from office in 2016.
It took the people he targeted rising up against him to show his powerlessness, Gomez said. We stopped being afraid and we took his power.
Arpaio became sheriff of Maricopa county in 1993. He opened the notorious Tent City, a jail he once joked was comparable to a concentration camp and which was closed last year. He forced inmates to wear pink underwear, work on chain gangs and endure temperatures of 120F (49C). As he did so, he racked up lawsuits that alleged harassment, neglect and even death in his jails.
But it was his approach to illegal immigration, in the later years of his career, that catapulted him to national fame. Arpaio embraced a federal program that effectively allowed his deputies to act as immigration agents. As he conducted workplace raids in prominently Latino neighborhoods, he invited camera crews along.
His wild ride came to an end on election night 2016, when he lost his seventh bid for Maricopa sheriff even as Trump, who made cracking down on illegal immigration a campaign issue, won the presidency.
Arpaio left office in January 2017. Months later he was convicted of criminal contempt of court, for violating an order to stop discriminating against Latinos. Then he received a presidential pardon, for his years of admirable service to our nation. Buoyed, he entered the race to replace the retiring senator Jeff Flake, a persistent critic of Trump.
Arpaio remains something of a folk hero among conservatives who thrilled to his law and order message and brazen policing tactics. But in the end, even his supporters came to believe his best years were past.
I mean no disrespect I love the guy, said JD Hayworth, a former congressman who supported his primary opponent, Kelli Ward, a former state senator who has long taken a hard line on immigration. I just dont think this [was] the best time for him to field a campaign.