Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com
Less than a month ago, the Republican Party went all-in for pedophilia and lost an election in one of the reddest, most pro-Trump states. Now the party is again courting disaster with the announcement that criminally racist former sheriff Joe Arpaio is running for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat.
In Alabama, Democrats were able to elect now-Sen. Doug Jones after suffering a 25-year-long electoral drought in the state.
Despite Republican nominee Roy Moore’s bigoted past, the party nonetheless nominated him, and when credible allegations of pedophilia emerged, Donald Trump still advocated for his election and even held a rally designed to get out the vote for him.
Facing the early signs of a blue wave of voters who are targeting Republicans, particularly those who have backed Trump despite his historic unpopularity, it is a curious sight to see Arpaio surface as a nominee for the Republican Party nomination in Arizona.
Arpaio has notoriously been a supporter of racist, anti-immigrant policies in Arizona. But unlike other conservative practitioners of bigotry, Arpaio was convicted in court for it. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which Arpaio headed, was ordered to comply with a court order to cease racially profiling. Arpaio refused, and in July of 2017, he was found guilty of criminal contempt of court.
Luckily for Arpaio, by that date the White House was inhabited by someone who shared his racial animosity towards Latinos, and he was pardoned by Trump.
The two men share a bond beyond racism. Both were — and likely still are — members of the anti-Obama “birther” conspiracy that alleged that the Hawaiian-born president was from a foreign country and thus inhabiting the presidency illegally. Trump once congratulated Arpaio on his “successful” fake investigation into the issue.
In his announcement, Arpaio said “the one unwavering reason” he has decided to run is “to support the agenda and policies” of Trump.
Arizona’s current senator, Jeff Flake, is retiring and has publicly split with Trump on his approach to the presidency (while supporting his policy agenda). In his retirement speech on the Senate floor, Flake complained of “coarseness of our dialogue with the tone set up at the top.”
Trump is unpopular in Arizona, where he is under 50 percent approval. But he is more popular there than he is in America overall, with a 45 percent approval rating, which could translate into support among Republicans for his friend, Arpaio.
That could cause headaches for the other Republicans in the field like former state Rep. Kelli Ward (who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. John McCain in 2016) and Rep. Martha McSally.
Democrats running for the seat, like frontrunner Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, are already receiving a boost from energy and excitement at the prospect of delivering more victories against the Trump-led Republican Party. The addition of one of the right’s most vocal anti-Latino figures, with the backing of Trump and the party, could prove as fatal in Arizona as it did in Alabama.
Thanks to Trump, and his party’s unwillingness to hold him accountable, there isn’t a “safe” Senate seat for Republicans anywhere.
Alabama just proved that. And now, with Trump friend and criminal racist Joe Arpaio running for office, Arizona may join the stampede trampling all over Republican dreams.