May 3, 2010

If you think things are getting crazy in Arizona, just wait. They're just getting started.

As Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones reports, Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio is getting set to run for Gov. Jan Brewer's seat.

And he's already the runaway favorite for the GOP nomination:

He made arresting Latinos fashionable and, after many run-ins with the feds over such practices, was likely the main inspiration behind Arizona's new immigration code. In short, Brewer felt she had to sign last week's immigration bill, because she felt Arpaio's breath on her neck. She had to appear as tough on brown people as Arpaio does, lest he decide to challenge her in the GOP primary.

So she signed it. And guess what? Arpaio's still going to run against her. Sources in the sheriff's department, which will likely double as his campaign staff (no new thing there), say his paperwork's filed. And on his Twitter account - where you can read about his Washington Post interview today, or his "crime suppression/illegal immigration" operations briefings, or his anger about "out of town critics" - he recently tweeted that his wife wants him to run. And he's already the frontrunner in Arizona Republicans' minds.

So why not run? What does he have to fear? Latino turnout in the Phoenix metro area? Problem solved!

Here, then, is to Arizona: one of the prettiest states in the union, soon to be the first breakaway republic in the new confederacy of Inner America.

According to the Tucson Sentinel, current polling shows him handily beating Brewer:

Although Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff, is not running for governor, he is by far the most popular Republican in the state.

Likely primary voters view him favorably at 70 percent, to only 22 percent with a negative opinion, and he leads Brewer 33-25 as a prospective candidate.

All this news was put in perspective, perhaps, by the neo-Nazis from the National Socialist Movement who showed up today at an Arpaio press event -- he was announcing his handpicked nominee for the county prosecutor's spot -- and told reporters:

"Sheriff Joe is endorsing this candidate, and we feel strongly to support Sheriff Joe and his actions," the man said, "particularly with the illegal immigration situation here in Maricopa County and in our state."

As you can see from the report, Arpaio plans to announce his intentions in the governor's race today.

Both Arpaio and his puppet denied having anything to do with the NSM's presence; Arpaio even hinted that they had been sent out by opponents to try and discredit him politically.

But that doesn't exactly wash, particularly not in Sheriff Joe's case. Because Arpaio has been all too happy to court support from outright neo-Nazis in the past. Check out the video below, from a year ago:

As you can see, Arpaio can't claim ignorance: the men he posed with were displaying neo-Nazi flags and symbols. A little further down the road, he did the same thing with a group of people openly waving a Confederate flag.

Indeed, Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times uncovered a working relationship between Arpaio's office and a clutch of local neo-Nazis.

Meanwhile, if you want to get an idea of the Arpaio approach to governance -- a preview of his governorship, as it were -- all you have to do is look at his record:

-- As Sheriff, his emphasis on immigration has gutted his office's ability to enforce the law, especially when it comes to investigating violent crime.

-- His office has been under steady legal attack (which has proved extremely costly) for rampant racial profiling and assorted civil rights violations, such as the time he forced a legal immigrant to give birth in shackles.

-- If you have the audacity to criticize him at public meetings, his deputies will arrest you.

-- Indeed, all of his critics, both in the press and in public office, have found themselves arrested by Arpaio's deputies -- a practice that has produced an FBI corruption investigation into his practices.

-- The ongoing DOJ investigation into all of these matters finally prompted ICE to strip him of all immigration enforcement powers.

Yep, looks like Arizona Republicans have another winner on their hands. A Governor Arpaio -- who does a mighty fine George Wallace imitation -- will complete the transformation of Arizona into an Old South segregationist state.

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