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Gov. Rick Perry embraces backing of controversial sheriff

Excerpt

The following ran in the Nov. 30, 2011, edition of the El Paso Times. Political scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

December 9, 2011

By Zahira Torres

AUSTIN -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, eager to re-energize his struggling primary campaign for president, turned for support Tuesday to one of the country's most unapologetic crusaders against illegal immigration.

Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio -- the tough-talking, anti-illegal-immigrant sheriff from Maricopa County who is known for controversial immigration raids in Hispanic neighborhoods and for housing some inmates in tents -- gave Perry his endorsement and joined him on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. ...

But the traction that Perry could gain from the endorsement may still not be enough to revive his primary campaign, and he risks alienating Latino voters if he makes it to the general election, said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University.

"It's not a game changer," Jillson said.

Jillson added that Perry is primarily polling in single digits nationally, a tough fall for the governor who entered the race for the Republican nomination with front-runner status. He said Perry will have to try to hang on beyond the primary in New Hampshire, where he is polling at only 4 percent.

"New Hampshire is a very tough state for him," Jillson said. "He probably has to hope that he's still alive when the voting comes to South Carolina and that he can do much better there, but I think that's increasingly a long shot."