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Jerry Sheridan builds lead over Joe Arpaio in Republican primary race for Maricopa County sheriff

The new figure shows Sheridan pulling away from the 88-year-old former sheriff with 4,090 ballots - just 1% of the total vote - separating the two.
Credit: AP
Joe Arpaio (pictured left) and Jerry Sheridan (pictured right)

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — Jerry Sheridan is building a slim but growing lead over Joe Arpaio in Arizona’s Republican primary for Maricopa County sheriff, according to the county's latest ballot count.

The new figure from the county recorder shows Sheridan pulling away from the 88-year-old former sheriff with 4,090 ballots - just 1% of the total vote - separating the two.

The race remains too close to call.

When the first results dropped Tuesday night, Arpaio and Sheridan were deadlocked with 572 votes separating the two candidates from a pool of over 387,000.

Thursday's count is the most significant gain for Sheridan yet, who is Arpaio's own former top deputy.

The winner of the race will face off against incumbent Democrat Paul Penzone in November.

Penzone handed Arpaio the worst defeat of any countywide candidate in 2016.

Since then, Arpaio has been on a quest to reclaim his job as sheriff after 24 years at the helm. The current race marks Arpaio's third bid for a return to office.

A firebrand for law enforcement, Arpaio billed himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but he ignited a nationwide furor in 2010 after a strict anti-illegal immigration policy essentially allowed his deputies to racially profile every-day people, his critics argued.

Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt of court in 2017 after a judge ruled that he ignored an order to stop arresting undocumented immigrants without producing evidence of them breaking state law.

A pardon from his ally President Donald Trump spared Arpaio from a prison sentence, but it did not expunge his conviction.

Another candidate, Mike Crawford, remains a distant third in the race.