Pinal County, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu will once again seek a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Babeu, a Republican, first ran for Congress in 2012 before pulling out of the race after news broke of his relationship with an undocumented male immigrant. That man alleged that Babeu threatened him with deportation if he divulged details of his relationship with Babeu. Babeu was not out at the time and had a staunch anti-immigration record, giving the story plenty of legs. A state investigation exonerated Babeu but the scandal destroyed his congressional ambitions at the time.
Babeu said he regrets not publicly sharing earlier that he is gay, which he thinks might have prevented some of the controversy.
But Babeu said his support continues to be high.
“That was a very difficult time for me personally and politically,” he said. “I had to survive through that and keep in mind that we got more votes than anyone elected in my county, including (2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney). … I trust the voters to judge me on my performance, my merit and my contributions to the community.”
Babeu said he supports the recent Supreme Court decision to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. When asked about Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was briefly jailed for refusing to grant licenses to gay couples based on her religious beliefs, Babeu said all laws must be enforced.
“The rule of law is the basis of our civilization. Let’s (as a country) move on. There are far more important and pressing issues facing us,” he said.
As for his chances this election cycle, Babeu said,
“This is the district I am hoping and planning to flip to go from Democrat to Republican,” after two terms in Kirkpatrick’s hands, Babeu said. “You’re going to have a representative that votes for a balanced budget, that’s going to take the tough votes on entitlements, a representative who understands the (Environmental Protection Agency) needs to deal fairly with Arizona.”
Babeu faces a crowded GOP field, running against Eagar rancher and Pinal County businessman Gary Kiehne, former Arizona Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett, Navajo businessman Shawn Redd and Arizona House Speaker David Gowan, as TriValleyCentral.com reports.
Watch a news report on the race for Arizona’s 1st congressional district, below: