Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu officially announced his intent to run for Congress early Wednesday morning.
Babeu intends to run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the newly-created District 4 - a sprawling, mostly-rural district that would include the portion of Pinal County that houses most of Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and San Tan Valley, according to the new congressional maps generated last month by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
District 4 would also include some of the more rural portions of Maricopa County to the north and west of the greater Phoenix area, along with all of Gila and La Paz counties, the vast majority of Yavapai and Mohave counties, and a large chunk of Yuma county - spanning all the way to the Arizona-California border.
Babeu said he plans to make illegal immigration, high unemployment and the federal deficit the focus of his candidacy.
"As a first responder, I'm trained to run toward dangers that others run away from. Right now, the biggest threats facing our country are from Washington," Babeu said in released statement. "We have record debt and deficit spending, the biggest intergenerational theft in the history of the world. We have a system that punishes job creators and leaves many millions unemployed. We have an unsecured border that allows the drug cartels to operate freely in our country, and results in 400,000 illegal crossings into our state every year.
"How have our leaders responded to these threats? This Congress approved the largest debt ceiling increase in American history. The administration transferred 2,000 high-powered weapons to the most dangerous criminals in North America, punishing whistleblowers and rewarding those responsible for ‘Fast and Furious.' Then they sued Arizona for doing the job they won't do. While Americans watch their savings disappear, we have credible allegations of insider trading by members of Congress."
Babeu, who announced the forming of an exploratory committee to run for the office in October, was elected in 2008 as Pinal County's first Republican sheriff. His ties to the party have not wavered since. He's been a fixture at tea party- and Republican-based events throughout the county and state and on the national TV circuit, appearing periodically on cable news outlets to discuss the rampant illegal immigration and smuggling corridor he says exists in Pinal County.
Prior to his post in Pinal, Babeu was a police officer in Chandler, and served as president of the Chandler police officer's association.
Babeu was named the 2011 National Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff's Association.
Republican State Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City is exploring a possible candidacy for the 4th District seat.
Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar also may run for the 4th District seat inside of the adjacent 1st Congressional District that includes his current home in Flagstaff.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.