Jeff Flake’s Sheriff Joe Problem

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Arizona’s infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio is flirting with the idea of running for Jon Kyl’s Senate seat, telling The Hill that “the door is open right now” for a national bid. He made the remarks in light of an early poll that had him leading the pack of Republican contenders, with 21 percent of the vote, trailed by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) at 17 percent. Some observers are skeptical, however, that Arpaio will actually run: the spotlight-loving immigration hawk made similar noises when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ran for re-election in 2010 but never launched an official campaign. 

Nevertheless, even speculation about an Arpaio run could be a thorn in the side for Flake, a leading contender for the seat. Though Flake is a hard-line fiscal conservative who’s embraced the tea party, he’s been significantly more moderate on social issues in the past. On immigration, most notably, he’s previously supported a comprehensive reform package that included a version of the DREAM Act and a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Such views—combined with his support for gay rights measures like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—has made him a pariah among some social conservatives. If “America’s Toughest Sheriff” continues to toy with a bid, anti-immigration activists will only ramp up the pressure on Flake to defend his moderate positions during the Senate Republican primary, using Arpaio’s harsh anti-immigration crackdowns as a foil.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) faced the same problem during his own re-election bid in 2010, when he faced anti-immigration extremist J.D. Hayworth. Like McCain, Flake has also toughened his stance on the issue, supporting Arizona’s unprecendented immigration law and voting down the DREAM Act in December. But with the political and social tensions surrounding immigration are still running high in Arizona, Sheriff Joe could still cause a world of trouble for Flake in the run-up to 2012.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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