Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio has tried to extend his political reach outside his home state of Arizona, where he has gained national notoriety for lightning-rod tactics to root out illegal immigrants, the Los Angeles Times reports. With Arizona’s controversial immigration law rekindling national interest in border security, Arpaio has appeared in Kentucky, Kansas, and elsewhere as an emblem of a stern law-and-order approach. Yesterday, he was set to speak at a Republican lunch in the key primary state of New Hampshire, which has led some observers to wonder if he’s considering a presidential bid.
Last week Arpaio waded into the high-profile Nevada Senate race, cheering on Republican Sharron Angle, a “tea party” favorite locked in a tight contest with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It may provide a test of how voters outside Arizona view Arpaio, who fancies himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and has been sued by the Justice Department, which accused him of refusing to cooperate with a federal civil rights investigation. “The sheriff potentially has a lot of appeal because he’s a single-issue person,” said political scientist Kenneth Fernandez of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “He represents being tough on crime and tough on immigration, and I can see a lot of politicians wanting his endorsement.”