- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2013

Activists against Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio have only a few hours left to try to oust him from office. Thursday is the deadline to turn in the necessary number of signatures to mount a recall, and by media accounts, effort organizers still have a long way to go to reach 335,000.

The Associated Press reported that the activists have suffered from funding challenges. And pitting unpaid volunteers against a well-known sheriff who’s tough-on-crime mantra has won him huge support has proved an unfair battle, it seems.

“By their own admission, they have a steep hill to climb,” said Sheriff Arpaio’s campaign manager, Chad Williams, in the AP report.

The activists seek Sheriff Arpaio’s recall because he’s failed to investigate 400-plus sex-crime cases and has cost county taxpayers $25 million in legal bills, AP reported.

But some say his get-tough stance on illegal immigrants is the real reason behind the recall drive. Sheriff Arpaio’s efforts to control and combat the flow of illegals crossing into Arizona grabbed the ears of a national audience, igniting federal immigration debates.

Lila Alvarez, head of the campaign to oust Sheriff Arpaio, wouldn’t confirm the number of signatures she’s received so far. But five weeks ago, media reports put the number at 200,000, AP said. Petitioners have until 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT) to produce the necessary number.

Sheriff Arpaio, 80, began his sixth term in January.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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