The buildup to the 2018 Midterms in the U.S. has begun in earnest with a number of high-profile candidates declaring their interest in specific seats across the nation. One aspect of the current political climate which has taken many by surprise is the number of candidates for national office who have a criminal record or are currently under investigation; on the Republican side of the spectrum four candidates have been identified who have a criminal record or are under investigation including Sheriff Joe Arpaio the controversial former law enforcement officer from Arizona’s Maricopa County. A single Democratic candidate has been identified as having a criminal record but has already been declared unfit for office by the party.
The four Republicans who have been identified as having a criminal record are Don Blankenship, Michael Grimm, Greg Gianforte, and former Sheriff Arpaio. It is thought many of those standing for election who have a criminal record are following the example of the former member of the National Security Council, Oliver North who clung on to his political future by claiming he was a political prisoner fighting for the good of the American public.
Perhaps the best example of this form of political campaigning is former coal mining executive Don Blankenship as he sets out to challenge Democrat Senator Joe Manchin for his seat in West Virginia. Blankenship was jailed for one year following the death of 29 miners in 2010 at the Upper Big Branch Mine operated by Massey Energy.
The role of dishonor among Republican candidates includes Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent convicted of tax evasion and Montana Representative Greg Gianforte who famously slammed a reporter from The Guardian to the ground during a special election. The best-known of those standing for election in 2018 with a criminal record is former Sheriff Arpaio who was the subject of various lawsuits and investigations regarding his conduct over two decades in charge of law enforcement in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Famously pardoned by President Trump in 2017, Arpaio is a political figure welcomed by Democrats as they believe his standing for office in Arizona will allow them to gain a seat in Washington. Among supporters of President Trump, Arpaio enjoys an approval rating of 61 percent which falls to around 50 percent across all voters in Arizona.
The news of the four Republican candidates with a criminal record comes after the shock election loss of Republican Roy Moore in Alabama amid allegations of historic sexual misconduct. Moore had also been removed from his role in Alabama’s judiciary for refusing orders to remove a monument featuring the Ten Commandments from state property and a second to recognize same-sex marriage. The only Democrat so far identified as having a criminal record is David Alcorn of New Mexico who has entered a nine-person primary in the state and has a conviction for stalking; Democrats in the state and at the national level have already called on the candidate to quit the race as he is unfit for office.