Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose congressional campaign took a hit when he disclosed that he was gay amid allegations that he threatened a former Mexican boyfriend with deportation, dropped out Friday, opting to run for re-election as sheriff instead.
Babeu, a Republican, is known for his hardline stance on illegal immigration and border security and was considered a strong candidate in a three-way primary in the 4th Congressional District, which covers most of northwestern Arizona.
His image took a beating in February when the boyfriend, a former campaign volunteer, claimed the sheriff threatened him with deportation if he disclosed their relationship. At the time, a picture of a shirtless Babeu was posted on a gay dating website.
After Babeu’s disclosures, he stepped down as co-chairman for likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s Arizona campaign and his fundraising dropped.
In the announcement ending his congressional run, Babeu said he wants to seek re-election as sheriff because his chief deputy cannot run for the office. Babeu cited an earlier promise to constituents that he would maintain a continuity of leadership.