by Conor Friedersdorf

Over at NR, Daniel Foster, one of several bright young staffers there, has a piece of reportage up about efforts by Arizona Republicans to oust Sherrif Clarence Dupnik from office. They're upset that in the aftermath of the Tuscon shooting he gave interviews blaming right-wing rhetoric for inspiring the crime:

When National Review Online asked Pima County GOP chairman Brian Miller whether there was any doubt in his mind that Dupnik, a vocal liberal in a state with comparably few, had used his office to score political points in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, an almost incredulous Miller responded: “No doubt at all. It’s inarguable. It’s been videotaped.”

Pima County Republicans are more determined than ever to do something about it. They’ve launched dumpsheriffdupnik.com, the virtual locus of a money-bomb that hopes to raise $100,000 to oust the 30-year, seven-term incumbent. While the election isn’t until 2012 and the $100,000 figure is being called just “an initial goal,” Miller says his party is intent on keeping its foot on the gas and doing all it can to retire Dupnik.

Sherrif Dupnik behaved badly in the aftermath of the shooting, and is utterly wrong about what caused it. While I understand the impulse of these Republicans to punish him politically for his remarks, however, I can't help but question their actions. Is he a good sherrif? Over his 30 years in office, is crime up or down? We're never told by Mr. Miller, who doesn't seem to find that to be a relevant question.

As Dara Lind notes, "according to Arizona Department of Public Safety reports, violent crime has dropped 15 percent in Pima County since 2002." Personally, I'd support an LA County Sherrif who shot his mouth off about the Lakers, disparaged my political beliefs, and made fun of my haircut if he turned in those numbers. That isn't to say all misconduct should be forgiven if the crime rate is falling: a sherrif who routinely violates civil liberties, undermines the rule of law, and engages in racial profiling – someone like Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County – would be worth getting rid of even if he successfully reduced crime in his jurisdiction (he doesn't).

But a political remark about a singular crime unlikely to repeat itself doesn't have much bearing on Dupnik's effectiveness at his job. It isn't that I want Pima County Republicans to turn the other cheek exactly. Forcefully point out the guy is wrong. But maybe it would be better to direct your focus and your $100,000 elsewhere. And yes, I'm sure if the circumstances were flipped the Democrats would be seeking this guy's ouster. I'm not saying these Republicans are especially guilty of showing bad judgment – I'm just encouraging them to rise to a level of maturity and cold logic that one doesn't often see in these situations. It would help if voters were mature enough to disconnect they're impulse to give money from their sense of aggrievement.

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