Even Steven Seagal thought the idea of him running for governor of Arizona was "kind of a joke." At first. But now, the actor wants the world to know that he's inching towards taking the idea seriously, prompted by encouragement from his pal, the infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Seagal, you see, is part of Arpaio's celebrity "posse" of tough guys who support the sheriff's tough (and probably unconstitutional!) ideas for targeting undocumented immigrants in the state. Since Arpaio is pretty busy running Maricopa County, Seagal could be just the thing the sheriff needs to take his policies state-wide.
Maybe. Seagal's comment that he would "remotely consider" a run for governor come as the aging ponytail makes the rounds to promote his new reality show: Steven Seagal - Lawman: Maricopa County (The Lost Episodes). This combination of political teasing and reality show promotion (we'll call it "Trumping") could very well amount to nothing. But the reality series itself already documents the sort of encouragement Arpaio's thrown Seagal's way. With cameras following along, the actor "trained" the sheriff's deputies in martial arts and marksmanship, and tagged along to a number of the sheriff's media-friendly raids. Now the pair are friends, and Seagal has moved his base of operations to Arizona in order to help fight against "open borders." When discussing Arizona law enforcement, Seagal now speaks in the first person plural. Here's what he told ABC15 last week:
"When people ask if Joe Arpaio's a racist, I'm not going to say I don't think so. I'm going to say I know he's not a racist. He's not. He doesn't care what nationality you are. He cares if you're a criminal. If somebody murders somebody we go and arrest them. If someone robs a bank we go and arrest them. We don't care if they're Mexican, Irish, French, German or Chinese. We don't care. We really don't."
But not everyone agrees with Seagal. Earlier this year U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow found that the sheriff department's anti-immigration policies were effectively racial profiling, and ordered a number of changes, to be enforced by an anti-profiling monitor. The policies in question include the Arpaio's use of “crime suppression” patrols in mainly Latino neighborhoods. And, according to the judge, the Arpaio's office can no longer cite the fact that an individual speaks "Spanish, or... English with an accent," as cause for reasonable suspicion that a person might be committing a crime. The court-ordered reforms will cost Phoenix-area taxpayers $21 million over the next year and a half. Coupled with Arpaio's fondness for creating "posses" of citizens to help him with his personal priorities (including his ongoing, independent investigation into President Obama's birth certificate), you can begin to see the inevitability of the Arpaio-Seagal bromance over trying to mainstream vigilante justice.
And, as it turns out, Arpaio is also likely one of a dwindling number of law enforcement officials who would want to have Seagal in their ranks. The Lost Episodes is more or less the continuation of Seagal's old reality show, Steven Seagal: Lawman, set in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. That show ended its run on A&E after a woman sued the celebrity for allegedly trying to keep her as a "sex toy" during filming, among other things. The sheriff's office there decided to drop its association with Seagal shortly after. The new series will air on TV's Reelz Network, a cable channel that does apparently exist.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.