Arpaio: Run for governor 'not in my cards,' will seek 7th term as sheriff

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PHOENIX (AP) -- The sheriff for metropolitan Phoenix who over the years has flirted with running for Arizona governor announced Thursday that he would not throw his hat into the ring.

"I cannot in good conscience leave the Sheriff’s office now, since that would be necessary if I declare a candidacy for Governor," Arpaio said in a statement. "Currently, I have several sensitive investigations in progress and am facing many challenges in my office. Because of this, I will not desert the people of Maricopa County who have elected me six times. Further, I cannot desert my dedicated employees"

If Arpaio decided to run for governor, Arizona law would have required him to resign immediately because he is not in the final year of his current term as sheriff.

"As I mentioned the night of my re-election in 2012, I stated that I would run again for Sheriff in 2016," he continued. "So many have already supported my campaign for another term, having already raised over $4.2 million in the last 16 months.

Come January, the 81-year-old Republican, now serving his sixth term as sheriff, will be the longest-serving elected sheriff in Maricopa County history.

"I am a warrior who will continue to fight for the people of Maricopa County and my office," he said. "I know during the past years if I ran for Governor, I would have won. Recent polls still show my approval rating among Republicans between 85-90 percent and consistently over 60 percent among all voters. But personally, it was not in my cards."

The sheriff is known for jailing inmates in canvass tents, dressing them in pink underwear and conducting immigration patrols.