“There’s a new sheriff in town,” chanted Paul Penzone’s supporters chanted at his campaign headquarters in Phoenix last night, when it seemed inevitable that he would topple Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from his 24-year reign as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” reports the Arizona Republic. The Associated Press declared Penzone, a retired Phoenix police sergeant, the victor at about 9:15 p.m. It was a turnaround for Penzone, who in 2012 was nosed out by Arpaio, an immigration hardliner and ally of GOP presidential winner Donald Trump.
“I come from a law enforcement background,” Penzone told supporters last night. “I pursued this because I want to restore the respect, the transparency.” He added, “No longer will we be known by the notoriety of one. The only division we should see in the community is between those who commit the crime and those (who) are willing to hold them accountable.” Penzone was aided by multimillion-dollar ads attacking Arpaio, funded by billionaire George Soros through a “dark money” group. It was likely Arpaio’s aggressive immigration stance that was his downfall. It alienated him from Hispanic and Democratic voters. Eventually, Republican support split as the enforcement measures spawned a long-running racial-profiling case that led to the sheriff’s criminal-contempt charge and mounting legal costs to taxpayers.