Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America won a sixth term after facing his most bruising political challenge.

Republican incumbent Joe Arpaio had faced a challenge from Democrat Paul Penzone and independent Mike Stauffer in the Maricopa County sheriff's race.

In other races, Pinal County re-elected its sheriff and Cochise County picked a new sheriff.

The themes of cracking down on crime and illegal immigration had made Arpaio popular with many voters in the past, but that narrative was turned against him this year.

The two retired officers who challenged Arpaio accused metro Phoenix's longtime sheriff of focusing too heavily on investigations that bring him publicity and ignoring many of the law enforcement duties he was hired to do.

The 80-year-old Arpaio has been dogged by revelations that his office failed to adequately investigate hundreds of sex-crime cases - including dozens of alleged child molestations - and allegations that his deputies have racially profiled Latinos during his trademark immigration patrols.

The sheriff's office reopened more than 400 sex-crimes cases that were reported to the agency but were inadequately investigated or not investigated at all after they were reported over a three-year period ending in 2007.

A city that had contracted with Arpaio's office for police services had found there were many cases in which sheriff's investigators wrote no follow-up reports, collected no additional forensic evidence and made zero effort after the initial report of the crime was taken. The city concluded some cases were no longer viable, in part, because victims had either moved away or otherwise moved on.

The sheriff has said his office has moved to clear up the inadequately investigated cases and have taken steps to prevent the problem from happening again.

While the sheriff's immigration enforcement has made him popular among some voters, it led to two lawsuits that alleged racial profiling in his immigration patrols. A federal judge heard of one of the lawsuits this summer and hasn't yet issued his ruling. The lawsuit filed by a small group of Latinos will serve as a precursor for a similar yet broad civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio by the U.S. Department of Justice.


Republican incumbent Paul Babeu won his bid for a second term as Pinal County sheriff. Babeu faced Democrat Kevin Taylor and independent Ty Morgan.

Babeu acknowledged he is gay after stories were reported of a falling out with a former lover and shirtless photos of Babeu on a gay dating website emerged.

Babeu pulled out of the race for a congressional seat after the stories broke.


Cochise County has a new sheriff for the first time in 16 years.

The late Sheriff Larry Dever was killed in a rollover crash in September near Williams. An investigation showed he was intoxicated, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.

He will be succeeded by retired Cmdr. Mark Dannels, a retired Sheriff's Office higher-up who won more than two-thirds of the votes Tuesday. Cochise County's GOP leaders had picked Dannels as the candidate to replace Dever on the ballot.

Chief Deputy and interim Sheriff Rod Rothrock ran as a write-in candidate and received 32 percent of the votes.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Becky Pallack contributed to this report.