Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is the law in Phoenix, Arizona. “America’s Sheriff,” as some call him, built his reputation on immigration sweeps and on housing inmates under the desert sun in tents, making them wear pink underwear and serving them green bologna. Over at the hometown Arizona Republic, Laurie Roberts tracks his declining margins of victory, starting with his second term in 2000 (66 percent), then in 2004 (57 percent), followed by 2008 (55 percent). Facing an energized, outraged and growing Latino electorate, Arpaio just won a seventh term, with a margin of 50.7 percent.
Roberts’ interview with Arpaio is amazing in its own right. “I can get along great with the Hispanics,” he tells her. “In fact, I sure would like to meet them, even the politicians, maybe in the back room or whatever, have a couple of beers and try to explain. But they need to understand that I enforce the laws. I want to listen to them and hear their problems. I want them to tell me what their problems are. Maybe we can come up with a solution.”
So there’s that. Earlier this month the Tea Party News Network posted an interview with Arpaio, in which the guy with a winning margin of 50.7 percent suggested the national Republicans take their cues from him.
TPNN Reporter: After this last election, all we’re hearing right now is from the Republican Party that, you know, maybe we need to actually cater to the immigrant population, maybe we need to find a pathway to citizenship, that we don’t have an immigration problem in this country. Is that true?
Sheriff Arpaio: Well, you know it’s not true, and I’m sure they know it isn’t, but you know, if they’re worried about the Hispanic vote, why don’t they use me? The president has used me as a poster boy. But let me put it this way, we have 33, 35 percent Latinos in this county. I took ‘em on. I got elected again. So don’t tell me that you can’t get elected without the Latino vote.
You can make your own joke about Karl Rove calling Arpaio now for advice, or maybe fiddling while Rome burns, or whatever works.