PHOENIX -- After months of consideration, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is putting away his badge and throwing his hat in the ring, vying for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"I could stay sheriff probably until I retire, but there's an emergency in our country and in Washington," Babeu told 3TV's Scott Pasmore Wednesday morning. "They have betrayed our country, I believe, and not just about securing the border and not enforcing the law."
Babeu cited the economy, massive debt and deficit spending, calling it "the biggest intergenerational theft in the history of the world."
"It's not only hampered our economy in the future, but today," he said.
Babeu said if he makes a promise to Arizonans, he will keep it, just as he always has.
"Everything I've promised as sheriff, I've done," he said.
Babeu is a retired major in the United State Army National Guard and served a tour of duty in Iraq in addition to a 16-month deployment in Arizona along the border with Mexico.
"As a first responder, I'm trained to run toward dangers that others run away from," Babeu said in a statement announcing his candidacy. "Right now, the biggest threats facing our country are from Washington. … It's time for a new sheriff in Washington. The American people are sounding a giant 911 call on Washington. And I'm responding."
After graduation from Arizona Law Enforcement Academy, Babeu started his law-enforcement career as a police officer in Chandler. He took over as the sheriff of Pinal County after a landslide win in the 2008 election. He was the first Republican elected in the county's history.
The National Sheriff's Associated selected Babeu as America's 2011 Sheriff of the Year.
Based on the tentative final map adopted on Dec. 20 by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Congressional District 4 would encompass most of Yavapai snf Mohave counties, parts of Gila, Pinal and Yuma counties, and all of La Paz County.
Republican State Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City is exploring a possible candidacy for the 4th District seat.
Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar also may run for the 4th District seat instead of the adjacent 1st Congressional District that includes his current home in Flagstaff.