Arizona voters have ended Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 24-year tenure in Maricopa County. In the end it may have been immigrants and their families—the same groups Arpaio targeted with his racist policies— who helped voted him out of office.
The man who described himself as “America’s toughest sheriff” lost to his opponent Paul Penzone, a Democrat who spent 21 years as a Phoenix police officer.
Arpaio, 84, may have seen his loss coming in the weeks ahead of his seventh reelection bid. In an interview with local news on Election Day he said he was “nervous, a little.”
Arpaio spent more than $10 million on his re-election campaign, according to the Associated Press, but it wasn’t enough.
Penzone was backed by a group called Maricopa Strong, which was bankrolled by business magnate George Soros to the tune of $3 million. Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steven P. Jobs, also contributed $250,000 to the campaign against Arpaio, according to a Maricopa Strong spokesperson.
The campaign against the sheriff’s reelection, known as Bazta Arpaio, focused on mobilizing voters of color with billboards, radio ads, rallies, and even a drag queen dressed as Selena.
In the end, the groups that Arpaio targeted as sheriff finally targeted him back.