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Joe Arpaio to run for Arizona Senate seat

  • Ex-sheriff was pardoned by Donald Trump for racial profiling conviction
  • Republican, 85, to run as ‘a big supporter of President Trump’

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Joe Arpaio, pardoned racial profiler, to run for Arizona Senate seat” was written by Ben Jacobs and Lauren Gambino in Washington, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 9th January 2018 22.31 UTC

Controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio announced on Tuesday that he would run for the United States Senate in Arizona.

Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017 after he was convicted of contempt of court for violating a federal court order to stop racial profiling against Hispanics.

Who is Joe Arpaio? A look at the controversial Arizona sheriff

While in office for 24 years, Joe Arpaio, 85, called himself America’s toughest sheriff.

He boasted that he fed his prisoners more cheaply than the sheriff’s department dogs – just two meals a day for the humans, with stale bologna sandwiches a staple.

Anti-immigration voters loved his tactics of sweeping Latino-majority neighborhoods, rounding up anyone suspected of being in the US illegally or failing to show papers on demand.

Arpaio called his department’s sprawling jail a concentration camp, where male inmates were forced to wear pink underwear and striped uniforms and live in tents under 140F (60C) desert sun.

The sheriff ran chain-gangs of male and female inmates, shackled by the ankle and marched out to collect trash from highways and desert, or to bury​ the destitute.

He lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff in 2016, ​losing​ to a Democrat who benefited from a surge of Latino voters to the polls and later shut down the outdoor jail section known as Tent City.

After a five-year “birtherism” investigation, during which Arpaio sent investigators to Hawaii, he still claimed in 2016 that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is “fake, fake”.

In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted on a federal charge of contempt of court after failing to heed numerous court orders to stop traffic patrols that targeted Latinos as part of his infamous anti-immigration crackdowns. He was facing up to six months in federal prison but before he could be sentenced, Donald Trump issued him with a presidential pardon.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, the 85-year-old said that he was running as “a big supporter of President Trump”. Arpaio had long been known for his draconian views on illegal immigration and his harsh treatment of prisoners and undocumented immigrants detained while awaiting deportation or transfer to other jurisdictions.

He was also an enthusiastic believer in so-called birtherism, the long-running campaign by some hardline conservatives, with Donald Trump as their cheerleader, to convince the public inaccurately that Barack Obama was not born in the USA and therefore was not eligible to be president.

Arpaio served six terms as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, the state’s largest jurisdiction, near Phoenix and the Mexico border, before losing his re-election bid in 2016.

Self-anointed as “America’s toughest sheriff”, he gained notoriety during his 24-year tenure for detaining hundreds of undocumented immigrants in a sprawling jail known as Tent City and forcing them to wear pink underwear. The sheriff courted controversy and media attention – calling his own jail a “concentration camp”, serving inmates just two meals a day and selling replica pink underwear to the public – as he became a national figurehead for the virulent xenophobia Trump embraced in his presidential campaign.

Trump’s decision to pardon the polarizing sheriff drew condemnation from both of the state’s Republican senators, as well as Democrats and Latino and immigrant advocacy groups. Arpaio is the only person so far to have received a presidential pardon from Trump.

The populist and polarizing former sheriff joins a crowded Republican field in the race to succeed vocal Trump critic Jeff Flake, who announced he would not seek re-election. The former sheriff has a complicated history with Flake. He is currently facing a malicious prosecution suit from Flake’s son, who alleges Arpaio prosecuted him for animal cruelty in an attempt to embarrass the Republican senator.

Currently, Kelli Ward, a former state senator who has been vocally backed by former White House aide Steve Bannon, is running for Flake’s seat and is expected to be joined by Martha McSally, a two-term congresswoman who was also the first woman to fly in combat. McSally is an establishment favorite who has won multiple tough races in her Tucson-based swing district.

The winner of the Republican primary is likely to face Democratic congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema in the November general election.

On Tuesday, Flake told reporters: “I won’t be supporting Joe Arpaio.” Of the sheriff’s bid, the Arizona senator joked: “Write about it fast because it won’t last long.”

The Senate race is expected to be one of the most competitive in 2018 and a must-win for Democrats if they are to have any chance of winning control of the Senate in the midterms.

Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said:

“Joe Arpaio is one of our nation’s most notorious agents of racism and bigotry,” Perez said in a statement on Tuesday. “He has spent his career tearing apart immigrant families and devastating Latino communities.”

As head of the justice department’s civil rights division, Perez sued Arpaio in 2012, alleging long-standing racial profiling of Latinos.

Asked about the criticism on Fox News Radio, Arpaio said it was “an honor to know he is going after me”.

“He better worry about his own party and not target me,” Arpaio said. “Let him target me, that’s okay, he has been doing it all along anyway.”

Critics of Arpaio says his entry in the Senate race could animate Latino voters.

“If Republicans rally behind this monster, they will turn out Latino voters like never before – in Arizona and across the country,” Cristóbal Alex, president of Latino Victory Fund, a progressive political action committee, told the Guardian.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Politics

Keir Starmer elected as UK opposition Labour leader

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The UK’s main opposition Labour Party has elected Keir Starmer as its new leader, the party announced Saturday.

Starmer, 57 will replace Jeremy Corbyn, who announced he would step down after a bitter defeat at the last election that saw sweeping gains for the ruling Conservatives.

The change in leadership comes as the country battles its own coronavirus crisis and amid calls to improve public services, such as the National Health Service currently under strain.

Starmer is a former crown prosecutor who has promised to pursue policies aimed at improving social equality, including an increase to the top tax rate and a boost to social services, as well as take stronger action on climate change.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Starmer said he would work with the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to tackle the coronavirus crisis, while also pointing out “mistakes or faltering government.”

“In times like this, we need good government. A government that saves lives and protects our country,” he said.

“It’s a huge responsibility. And whether we voted for this government or not, we all rely on it to get this right,” he said.

Starmer rose to prominence as a young activist lawyer before his career in politics. He more recently raised his public profile as Labour’s shadow Brexit spokesperson. In the UK, the main opposition party has “shadow” ministers who hold political portfolios.

Starmer won more than 56% of the party vote, beating fellow MPs Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey in one round.

The new leader has pitched himself as a unity candidate amid continued divisions in the Labour Party.

The Labour Party has been mired in criticism over anti-Semtic remarks by several MPs in the past. Corbyn was widely criticized for his lax response to the problem within the party.

Starmer said in his video that the party needs to face up to the issue with honesty and apologized to Jewish communities.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.

“And I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”

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Election 2018

GOP Candidate in Disputed U.S. House Race Not Running Again

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Raleigh, N.C. (AP) — The Republican candidate whose narrow lead in a North Carolina congressional race was thrown out because of suspicions of ballot fraud announced Tuesday he will not run in the newly ordered do-over election, saying he needs surgery late next month.

The withdrawal of Mark Harris, a candidate hobbled by links to alleged ballot fraud, could help Republicans in their effort to keep the competitive seat in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

Harris announced his decision in a statement that focused on his health problems. He did not mention the alleged ballot fraud scandal.

Harris had led Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes after November’s election, but the outcome was never certified. State election officials grew concerned about reports that an operative working for Harris was illegally tampering with absentee ballots.

Harris last week stopped a special state elections board hearing by declaring he couldn’t continue to testify. He cited health problems caused by a blood infection that required hospitalization and led to two strokes. He also said he agreed that a new election should be called, despite his previous calls to be declared the winner.

Shortly after Harris spoke last week, the elections board ordered a new contest . A date for the new election has not been announced.

On Tuesday, Harris encouraged his supporters to rally around Stony Rushing, a commissioner in Union County. The local official from the Charlotte suburbs would “stand firm on so many of the issues that concern us, including the issue of life, our national security, and religious freedom,” Harris said.

Rushing, a firing range owner and licensed gun seller, has been a county commissioner off and on for more than eight years, first taking office in 2002. He didn’t return a phone call to his shooting range seeking comment on Tuesday.

Only one other GOP candidate — former state Sen. Tommy Tucker of Union County — has publicly expressed interest in running for the seat. In a phone interview, Tucker said he’s “95 percent sure” that he plans to run for the seat. He said he had no idea how Harris’ near-endorsement of Rushing would affect the campaign.

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, whom Harris defeated in last May’s primary, told The Associated Press in an interview that it was “good for the country and the party” that Harris wasn’t running. When asked why, he said simply: “I think it’s just obvious.”

Pittenger again closed the door on seeking his old job, saying he’s involved in a series of conferences on counter-terrorism and security issues.

Former Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he wouldn’t seek the seat. He was previously mayor of Charlotte, a part of which is in the congressional district.

McCready has been assembling a new campaign staff and raising money to run again in the district that stretches from Charlotte through several counties to the east along the South Carolina border. His campaign finance report showed McCready raised $487,000 during the final five weeks of 2018. His campaign sent out a campaign fundraising plea late Thursday, citing the state elections board’s decision.

McCready formally announced his intention to run Friday before several dozen supporters at a brewery in Waxhaw, near Charlotte.

“Folks, there’s a lot of people that have had their confidence shaken in recent weeks because of the fraud conducted by Mark Harris’s campaign,” McCready said. “There’s a lot of people right now in North Carolina that are disillusioned in our electoral process.”

He told the crowd that he and his team were going to “knock on every door” in the district to earn votes and to reassure constituents that he’s the type of politician who will do the right thing.

“We’re going to talk to people about doing what’s right instead of what’s wrong,” he said.

Harris struggled during testimony last week over why he prepared for his primary election last year by seeking out and signing up Bladen County political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless, a convicted felon who had been accused of ballot fraud in the 2016 elections. The state elections board turned over evidence of his actions in 2017 to federal prosecutors, who took no action.

According to testimony and other findings detailed at the hearing, Dowless conducted an illegal “ballot harvesting” operation: He and his assistants gathered up absentee ballots from voters by offering to put them in the mail.

Dowless’ workers in rural Bladen County testified that they were directed to collect blank or incomplete ballots, forge signatures on them and even fill in votes for local candidates.

It is generally against the law in North Carolina for anyone other than the voter or a family member to handle someone’s completed ballot.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case . Dowless declined to testify last week after the elections board refused to grant him immunity from prosecution based on what he might say.

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Election 2018

North Carolina Election Board Unanimously Agrees To New House Election

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Feb 21 (Reuters) – North Carolina’s elections board on Thursday unanimously ordered a new election for a U.S. House seat after officials said corruption surrounding absentee ballots tainted the results of last November’s vote.

The bipartisan board’s 5-0 decision came after Republican candidate Mark Harris requested a new vote, telling the panel that evidence of possible ballot fraud had undermined confidence in the election.

In the televised hearing, board members said “corruption” and the “absolute mess with the absentee ballots” had cast doubt on the fairness of the contest and voters deserved a fresh election.

Harris’ request for a new vote came as a surprise. For months, he had said he should be declared the victor in the 9th Congressional District after he led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of 282,717 ballots cast on Nov. 6. Elections officials, however, had refused to certify him as the winner due to allegations of irregularities in the vote.

“Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said at a hearing in Raleigh. “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th district seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”

Harris’ statement came on the fourth day of a hearing on whether his campaign benefited from what state investigators called illegal election manipulation by political consultant Leslie McCrae Dowless.

Earlier on Thursday, Harris said he had known Dowless was going door to door on the candidate’s behalf to help voters obtain absentee ballots, a process that is legal. Harris said Dowless assured him he would not collect the ballots from the voters, which would violate state law.

But residents of at least two counties in the district said Dowless and his paid workers collected incomplete absentee ballots and, in some instances, falsely signed as witnesses and filled in votes for contests left blank, according to testimony at the hearing.

Kim Strach, executive director of the state’s election board, earlier this week called the operation a “coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme.”

According to text messages Harris’ attorneys turned over to the board on Thursday, Harris sought a meeting with Dowless when he learned that Dowless had led a successful absentee ballot program for Republican candidate Todd Johnson during a 2016 congressional primary election.

In those messages to a Bladen County judge, Harris asked about “the guy whose absentee ballot project for Johnson could have put me in the US House this term, had I known, and he had been helping us.”

Harris campaign officials have said they did not pay Dowless to do anything illegal, and Dowless has maintained his innocence. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish)

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