Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has decided not to make a run for Arizona governor, the fifth time he has opted not to run since 1998.
"I cannot in good conscience leave the sheriff's office now, since that would be necessary if I declare a candidacy for governor," Arpaio said in an official statement released Thursday morning.
"Currently, I have several sensitive investigations in progress and am facing many challenges in my office. Because of this, I will not desert the people of Maricopa County who have elected me six times," Arpaio said.
If Arpaio had decided to run, he'll would have had to immediately step down as county sheriff, an elected position he has held since taking office in 1993.
State law mandates a candidate not in the final year of a current term must step down before seeking a different office.
The 81-year-old Arpaio, mentioned a possible run for governor as a Republican candidate during a fundraiser in March, though he unofficially committed to another term as sheriff nearly two years ago.
"As I mentioned the night of my re-election in 2012, I stated that I would run again for sheriff in 2016," Arpaio said. If elected, it would be his seventh term and he would be the longest-serving elected sheriff in county history.
Arpaio said more than $4.2 million has been raised by supporters in the last 16 months for his re-election.
He said based on public support in the past, he would have won the governor's race. "But personally, it was not in my cards," he said.
Never one to shy away from media coverage, Arpaio exhibits a gruff exterior that mirrors his tough stance on immigration and strong-handed treatment of inmates in his jails. Some stay in his outdoor Tent City Jail and inmates often have been dressed in pink underwear.
That same exterior also hides a more sensitive side, such as his love for animals and intolerance for animal abuse. Arpaio established a no-kill animal shelter at one of his jails and inmates care for the rescued animals.
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