Joe Arpaio, a vocal advocate for Donald Trump, was a national symbol of the harsh enforcement of immigration law. He was defeated by Democratic challenger Paul Penzone after 23 years in office, losing a bid for a seventh term.
In a statement, Arpaio said that it had been “an honor and a privilege to serve the people as Sheriff of Maricopa County for the last 24 years.”
“Tonight, the people have spoken,” the statement continued. “And while Ava and I are disappointed in the results we respect their decision.”
Arpaio had been charged with criminal contempt of court on Oct. 25 for ignoring a judge’s order in a federal racial profiling case. He pled not guilty in a court filing and was not arrested. The 84-year-old could spend six months in jail if convicted.
The charge stemmed from a three-year-old profiling case that became a contempt case after Arpaio was accused of disobeying a court order to cease his immigration patrols.
Among many other factors, Trump’s seeking out and advertising Arpaio’s support as a tough, “Law and Order” sheriff may have motivated Democratic voters to turn out against Arpaio.
In March, Jane Sanders, wife of then-Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, was visiting one of Arpaio’s notorious outdoor jails when she was unexpectedly met by the sheriff himself. Bernie Sanders facetiously told Arpaio to “watch out” in a speech a few days later, implying that the elected president would have the power to confront “bullies” who “pick on people who have no power.”
In September, after Donald Trump said he had finally accepted that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, Arpaio told a Tea Party group: “We are looking at a forged document. Period.”
This post has been updated.