KEY POINTS

  • "America's toughest sheriff" lost in the Arizona Republican primary to his former chief deputy by over 6,000 votes
  • Joe Arpaio previously failed in a bid for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat in 2018 after his presidential pardon in 2017
  • Arpaio said Tuesday's defeat marks the last time he will run for political office

Former Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio failed in his election bid to regain his office nearly three years after his controversial pardon by President Donald Trump.

The results of Tuesday’s Arizona primary were released Friday, in which Arpaio was challenging his former chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, as the potential Republican nominee for Maricopa County sheriff. Arpaio had previously served as Maricopa County sheriff from 1993 to 2017 when he lost to Democrat nominee Paul Penzone.

Maricopa County officials reported Arpaio lost with 150,116 votes to Sheridan’s 156,396 votes. Sheridan will go on to challenge Penzone in the November elections.

The loss represents another hit for the man who previously referred to himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.” Arpaio earned a reputation as a hardline authority who repeatedly attacked illegal immigration and was a staunch supporter of a 2010 Arizona law that required immigrants to have any form of alien registration with them at all times. Critics of the law said it would encourage racial profiling, leading to three provisions being struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.

Arpaio was also among the more notable “birther” theorists targeting President Barack Obama, along with Trump, claiming Obama’s birth certificate was forged without evidence.

One of Arpaio’s more infamous decisions was the creation of an outdoor prison known as “Tent City.” Arpaio created the jail in 1993 where inmates were required to wear pink underwear and regularly wore chains. Penzone closed down the jail shortly after his election in 2017, though Arpaio had pledged to bring it back if reelected during his 2020 campaign.

In June 2017, Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for violating court orders to halt racial profiling carried out by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office during his tenure. His conviction was ultimately pardoned by President Trump in August 2017, which drew heavy backlash in the aftermath.

Arpaio’s first attempted political comeback came in 2018 when he ran for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat. He was beaten in the Republican primary by Martha McSally, who ultimately lost in a close election to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

Following Tuesday’s loss, Arpaio said it was the last time he would challenge for political office.

Joe Arpaio Sheriff Joe Arpaio was pardoned by President Donald Trump for criminal wrongdoing. In this photo, Arpaio (R) of Maricopa County, Arizona, endorses Trump prior to a rally in Marshalltown, Iowa, Jan 26, 2016. Photo: Getty Images/ Scott Olson