PHOENIX – One of America’s toughest sheriffs wants to stay at his post for a fourth term, but he’s lost the support of his own party.
The 72-year-old Sheriff Joe Arpaio (search) of Maricopa County, Ariz., got his reputation as a “talk the talk, walk the walk” tough guy in his first three terms. But a fellow Republican and former police commander says it’s time for Joe to go.
“All of the programs that he initiates are based on the concept to self-promote himself, so he is investing our tax dollars on self promotion while the entire organization is crumbling around him,” said Police Commander Dan Saban (search), who is challenging him in the race.
Local Republicans are furious with Arpaio because four years ago he appeared in a commercial for Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano (search), helping her beat the GOP candidate. So now, local Republicans and law enforcement groups are throwing their support behind Saban.
During the last 12 years, Arpaio gained international name recognition and popularity for his controversial jail policies. He created chain gangs, made inmates wear black-and-white striped uniforms and housed them in sweltering tents.
While some have criticized his tactics, the sheriff says he has one goal: to act in the best interests of his constituents.
“I report directly to the people, the people of this county,” Arpaio said. “I serve the people directly.”
The polls show the sheriff is leading Saban 53 percent to 25 percent among Republicans, but there are still 20 percent who are undecided. The primary is Sept. 7.
Click on the video box at the top of this story to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.