As some Arizona Republicans have been writing him off, Sheriff Paul Babeu faced the media wildfire this evening that has consumed his House campaign for the state’s 4th district.
Babeu, who has been accused of threatening to deport a gay ex-lover, fiercely denied such charges to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“I am not running away, and I am not lying about anything,” he said.
Babeu explained that the acrimony with his former lover of three years centers on hacking incidents involving his campaign’s social media, not a threatened deportation.
“He is legal and we all know that I do not have the authority to deport; I have the ability to arrest,” Babeu said. “He’s legal. He has said that, I have said that.”
The man, known only as “Jose,” had managed the Babeu campaign’s website and social media. After a campaign professional took over Babeu’s website’s activity, there was a hacking incident that involved Jose, according to Babeu. His attorney “sent one letter” to Jose to cease the hacking.
Jose appeared on CNN earlier today, saying, “I got a text from him, directly, on my phone saying that I will never have business.”
He also described feeling “used” by Babeu.
Babeu said the texts were of a broader nature, that a background in hacking makes it difficult to be taken seriously as a professional.
As an outed gay man, Babeu touched on social issues important to the gay community. He said gay marriage is a states’ rights issue, but he added, “You can’t legislate love.”
He elaborated on his choice to step down as a Mitt Romney campaign co-chairman for Arizona, saying he needed to focus on his own race. He found the Romney campaign supportive of his decision.
Before this week, Babeu was the beneficiary of strong momentum in his Congressional race. He had strong fundraising and a national following because of his appearance in a John McCain 2010 Senate campaign ad and his strong anti-illegal immigration stance.
“I’m going to need help,” Babeu said. “This is not going to be an easy battle.”