Perhaps the best tagline for a bad sequel, was for Jaws 2: “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.” The GOP may be using a similar line for their possible bad sequel to the Alabama debacle with Judge Roy Moore. That’s because they seem to be headed for a new fiasco in Arizona, with Judge Joe Arpaio. Seriously.
It’s gotta be a nightmare for Donald Trump, who is trying to seem “normal.” But Trump bestowed only one pardon in 2017—and it was for Arpaio, according to Breitbart, with high praise from the White House.
“Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplifies selfless public service,” read a statement from the White House. . .After more than fifty years of admirable service to our Nation, he is worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon,” the statement concluded.”
And of course, Arpaio was equally effusive of Trump.
“I know Donald Trump will stand with me and countless Americans to secure our border.”
The Washington Examiner added more detail.
The 85-year-old Arpaio could shake up the late August Republican primary in a critical open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. Trump pardoned Arpaio last summer, sparing the former sheriff jail time after he was convicted of ignoring a federal court order in a racial-profiling case. . .
To be sure, Arpaio’s reputation and close affiliation with Trump is virtually guaranteed to rev up a conservative base that had pushed the pragmatic Flake into retirement because of his feud with the president. That could work in his favor in a midterm, elections in which Republican turnout has tended to dominate.
Also, Arpio may get the full backing of Steve Bannon, who originally endorsed Kelli Ward, but has met with Arpaio a number of times.
Interestingly enough, Ward has put some distance between herself and Bannon by removing his name from her list of endorsements after he resigned as executive chairman from Breitbart on Tuesday following disparaging comments he made about President Trump.
Bannon has said he would spend the year trying to find rightwing candidates to challenge establishment GOP incumbents. He expected Moore to be his first success, but barely lost. And like Moore, Arpaio is also, to put it charitably, “controversial.”
Arpaio’s July 31 criminal conviction stemmed from his refusal to comply with a 2011 court order demanding that he stop detaining people without a reasonable suspicion that they had committed a crime. . . Arpaio brings with him a career full of baggage which Democrats are likely to exploit should he win the Republican nomination. In addition to the 2011 court order, a district judge found in 2013 that Arpaio and his office were systematically targeting and profiling Latinos. , ,
The former sheriff spearheaded the birther movement, which argued that President Obama’s birth certificate was fake and he was not an American citizen. He also reinstituted chain gangs and jailed prisoners in outdoor tents during sweltering Arizona days in his so-called Tent City. One of his proudest accomplishments? Forcing prisoners to wear pink underwear.
Meanwhile Az(Arizona)Central quotes people who say not to write off Arpaio.
“I think he is a threat all the way because he’s Trump round 2,” longtime Republican strategist Stan Barnes told me. “I’m not saying he’s going to win. I’m saying that anyone who discounts him as something less than a serious candidate is making a mistake.
“He has 100% name ID and has more money than God and is bear hugging Donald Trump in the public square in the most high profile of ways. You put all that together and it’s a formidable thing.” . . .
And make no mistake, with Arpaio in the race – and Trump’s endorsement, no doubt, on the way – the primary is likely over.
“More money than God.” That’s a LOT! Does God use BitCoin?
But not everyone thinks Arpaio is a shoo-in. The betting site, PredictIt, gives him only a 12% probability of beating Martha McSally and Kelli Ward to get the nomination. However, that’s higher than the odds they gave Trump this time last year. . .
Meanwhile, Arizona Republic Opinion says it’s a bad time for Arpaio to run.
“For the GOP, it’s a disaster if Arpaio wins [the nomination],” said Republican Tyler Montague, who runs the Arizona Public Integrity Alliance. “His loss for the sheriff’s race is a bellwether for his Senate race in a general election.”
With a razor-thin majority of 51-49, the GOP was hanging its hopes on the tough row Dems have to hoe next fall. Many more Democrats are defending seats this year—and in purple, and even red states. It looked like an easy road for the GOP to continued control of the Senate. Then, along came Judge Roy Moore. And now, Judge Joe Arpaio. For those old enough to remember Sammy Davis, Jr., “here come de judge, here come de judge!”