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'Toughest Sheriff' Won't Run for Arizona Governor

April 03, 2002|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the "nation's toughest sheriff" who put inmates in tents and pink underwear, ended weeks of speculation Tuesday by saying he won't run for governor.

Arpaio, 69, had made a strong showing in polls but said his decision to remain the sheriff of Arizona's most populous county, which includes Phoenix, "is the right thing to do."

"I just want to go out into the sunset as a law enforcement officer," he said.

The retired drug enforcement agent was elected sheriff in 1992 and became known for placing inmates in tents to reduce crowding, dressing them in pink underwear to reduce theft of jail property and reestablishing chain gangs in old-fashioned striped uniforms.

Dubbed "the nation's toughest sheriff" by a tabloid, Arpaio's 10 years in office have been marred by over-budget spending and lawsuits alleging brutality against inmates. One suit over a 1996 death resulted in an $8-million settlement.

Polls found Arpaio and former Rep. Matt Salmon in a dead heat for the Sept. 10 primary among likely Republican voters, trailed by three others.

GOP Gov. Jane Dee Hull is barred by term limits from seeking reelection.

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