By Todd Beamon
Tough-talking Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told Newsmax on Wednesday that he is considering a run for Arizona governor now that Jan Brewer has said that she would not seek a third term as the state’s top Republican after five years in office.
“If I’m ever going to do it, I should do it now,” Arpaio, 81, said in an exclusive interview. “I don’t want to wait until I’m 86 years old.
“If I’m going to do it, the only problem is that I have to resign as sheriff,” he added. “I have a lot of things going on, a lot of sensitive things going on.”
Arpaio declined to be more specific — only saying: “If I leave, it’s all going to be in vain. So I have to weigh that.”
The self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Arpaio has held the job since 1993 and is known nationally for his strict treatment of jail inmates and for cracking down on illegal immigration.
He told Newsmax that he raised $3.5 million last year for a possible gubernatorial campaign and that he planned to release a position paper next week “that would show what I would do if I were the governor.
“If I decide to run, it would give the public some idea of what I have in mind, what my platform would be,” Arpaio said.
Several other Republicans have entered the primary race for governor under the assumption that Brewer would not run again.
They include Arizona State Treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey, Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, former GoDaddy legal counsel Christine Jones, state Sen. Al Melvin, and former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas.
In making her announcement, Brewer, 69, ended months of speculation on whether she might challenge the Arizona constitution to seek a third term. The constitution limits governors to two four-year terms.
“There does come a time to pass the torch of leadership,” Brewer said at a news conference at an elementary school just outside Phoenix. “So, after completing this term in office, I will be doing just that.
“My job as governor is far from over,” she added. “Both my pen and my veto stamp have plenty of ink.”
In 2009, Brewer succeeded Gov. Janet Napolitano when she became Homeland Security Director under President Barack Obama. Brewer then won a full term in 2010.
She had said that there was “ambiguity” in the state constitution, since she had not served two full terms.
“I haven’t ruled it out, and I’ve been encouraged by people — legal scholars and other people — that it’s probably something that I ought to pursue,” Brewer told the Arizona Republic in a 2012 interview.