Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff known for his hard-line stance on crime and tough enforcement of immigration laws, doused speculation that he would run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jon Kyl, saying Friday that he doesn’t plan on going to Washington.
“I don’t report to any bureaucrat. I report to 4 million people,” the Maricopa County sheriff told a crowd of 1,000 Tea Party Patriots. “I’m only as good as the people who support me think I am.”
Kyl announced Feb. 10 that he’ll step down next year after three terms in office.
Arpaio, 78, has been sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county since 1993. He received a standing ovation during his brief speech at the group’s three-day meeting in Phoenix.
Even as he declined interest in Kyl’s seat, Arpaio threw his political support behind the group, calling them “my type of guys and gals.”
“Don’t surrender,” Arpaio said. “You stand for what this country is all about. You’re fighting for what’s right in the greatest country in the world. Send a message to the White House that things have to change.”
He also acknowledged his critics, who have accused him of racial profiling during anti-immigration sweeps, among other allegations.
“There are a lot of forces against you. And against me, but that’s OK because I have a gun and a badge,” he said. “Stay safe. And if you have a problem, call the sheriff.”
A Tea Party Patriots national coordinator said the group has a 40-year plan to instill in Americans the core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.
Up to 2,000 members were expected to attend the summit that ends Sunday afternoon. Among the speakers scheduled to address the convention are former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and former U.S. Rep. John Shadegg.