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GOP presidential candidates have courted him for his endorsement throughout the primary season. At last week’s GOP presidential debate in Arizona, Sheriff Arpaio won loud cheers. During a question about Arizona’s border woes, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said the government ought to give local police agencies the chance to enforce immigration law, as Sheriff Arpaio has.

Bruce Merrill, a longtime pollster and senior research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the subject of the investigation plays to the sheriff’s base of supporters. And, he said, it highlights Sheriff Arpaio‘s gift for publicity.

“It’s something that the press will cover,” Mr. Merrill said. “He’ll get a lot of exposure from it.”