After 23 years in office, Maricopa County, Az., Sheriff Joe Arpaio is trailing Democratic challenger Paul Penzone by nearly 15 points in a new Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll, the Republic reports. The poll was conducted Oct. 10-15 as news broke that federal prosecutors would file a criminal contempt charge against Arpaio in a racial-profiling case. Penzone has led most polls shared publicly in the race so far but by smaller margins. Arpaio’s campaign criticized the survey and published its own showing Arpaio, a Republican, up by almost 8 points.
The poll found support for Penzone at 45.9 percent compared with Arpaio’s 31.1 percent among the 466 Maricopa County registered voters surveyed. About a fifth of respondents were undecided. The poll indicated that more men support Penzone than women, 52.2 percent to 39.7 percent, potentially as a result of Arpaio’s TV ads attacking Penzone over protective orders he and his wife filed against each other during a domestic dispute. The poll raises the possibility that Arpaio, after six terms in office, could lose his position. Still, the sheriff has name recognition that would be the envy of many politicians, and his campaign has amassed a $1.2 million fund, four times Penzone’s.