Arpaio hauls in $450K, blows away competition

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Wednesday that he's added hundreds of thousands of dollars to his already unprecedented war chest.

Between Aug. 9 and Sept. 17, the county lawman raked in about $450,000, meaning Arpaio has raised more than $8 million for his re-election campaign.
Of that, the sheriff has spent more than half the money, leaving him with roughly $3.8 million to battle his two opponents.

Simply put, Arpaio's fundraising totals dwarf his political rivals, Democratic Paul Penzone and Independent Mike Stauffer.

Stauffer's numbers  were unavailable. But officials with the Penzone campaign say they raised about $138,000 during the five week period in August and September.

That brought the amount Penzone has raised to $358,000 for the entire campaign.  Stacey Pearson, a spokeswoman for Penzone, said the Democrat still has $114,000 left in his campaign coffers.

This year's race marks the 20 year anniversary of Arpaio first coming to power. It is also happening at a time when the iconic lawman is, perhaps, at his most vulnerable.

Rocked over the past several years with bad press and a string of lawsuits and investigations of wrongdoing, polls show Arpaio at his weakest point since taking office in 1992.

Chad Willems, the sheriff's political handler, said this is why Arpaio has raised so much money.

"The sheriff doesn't take anything for granted," Willems said during a telephone interview.

Willems then ticked off some of the political problems facing Arpaio this year. Arpaio is up against two challengers as well as several political groups who have vowed to spend big money to topple the Republican sheriff.

And then there's the local media, which Willems said opposes the sheriff.

"In politics, you hope for the best and prepare for the worst," he said.

Over the past month the sheriff has unleashed a torrent of new television ads.

Some highlight the sheriff's record of arresting deadbeat dads, while another shows Arpaio's softer side.

At the same time, Penzone launched what was believed to be the first television attack ad against Arpaio.

That commercial focused on more than 400 botched sex crimes that occurred under Arpaio's watch.

While Arpaio has enjoyed popular support and the advantages that come along with being a Republican in a heavily Republican country, Penzone's campaign released a poll last week show that the race was close.

So far, Arpaio's campaign hasn't released any of their polling data and has shied away from the media.

Although Stauffer's numbers were unavailable, he's been running a low-key campaign with very little money to pay for it. As of the middle of August, he had raised a total of $51,000 and had about $800 cash on hand.