Sheriff Dupnik: Arizona’s anti-Arpaio
In a state where sheriffs are larger-than-life figures, Pima County’s Clarence Dupnik is being cast in a role usually reserved for his Maricopa County counterpart — Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Deified by the right and loathed by the left, Maricopa’s Arpaio occupies a strange space in the state’s political world, a spotlight-craving official given to over-the-top rhetoric, a man who more closely resembles a political boss than a law-enforcement officer
But Dupnik, who found himself in the media’s glare Saturday after linking the attack on Rep. Giffords to an Arizona political climate full of “prejudice and bigotry,” is a much more complicated man than either side would like to paint him. And to understand him, one must take a deep look into the still pervasive myth of the Western lawman and the outsized impact the image has on Arizona politics — a place where sheriffs cast a large shadow.
Belying the narratives being spun on both sides in the wake of Dupnik’s intense rhetoric over the last few days — he’s also called Arizona the “Tombstone of the United States” — he’s known as one of the state’s few pragmatic political leaders, rarely seeks media attention and is well respected by both sides.
“He’s not bashful, but I’ve always found him to be totally professional and well informed,” said Grant Woods, the Republican former state attorney general. “He’s not just making comments haphazardly, these are deeply felt and well-reasoned, I’m sure.”
This is the second time the Pima County Sheriff has found himself a darling of the national left for criticizing his home state in just the past year.
In a May op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, he called S.B. 1070 a “mistake,” attracting widespread attention. And his attacks on the “racist” law, which would require police to ask for identification from anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, drew ire from the state’s conservatives.
The law’s implementation was blocked by a federal court order, but his rift with the right over his intense opposition to the wildly popular law remains.
Here’s a little audio tribute to Dupnik, which came to me via Dangerous Minds.