Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio backs Sharron Angle |

Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio backs Sharron Angle

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The nation’s self-professed toughest sheriff says Nevada voters should fire Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Joe Arpaio, the longtime Arizona county sheriff known for confrontational tactics in his efforts to combat illegal immigration, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he supports Republican challenger Sharron Angle because Washington, D.C. , needs new leadership.

“I don’t know too much about her,” he said in telephone interview. “When I am in Vegas, I am sure not going to endorse Harry Reid.”

Angle is among his many fans, and has said every state needs a lawman like Arpaio, who has dubbed himself “America’s toughest sheriff.” Arpaio said he appreciates her confidence in his work.

The pair are scheduled to speak at the National Tea Party Convention in Las Vegas in October. He said he’s looking forward to meeting Angle and would give her his formal endorsement if she asked for it.

“She is a Republican and we need some change in Washington,” he told the AP in a telephone interview. “We need as many Republicans as we can get.”

Jarrod Agen, Angle’s spokesman, said he wasn’t surprised by Arpaio’s kind words.

“Sharron Angle wants to protect our borders, unlike Harry Reid who actually supports suing a state for wanting to enforce the law,” Agen said, referring to the federal government’s lawsuit aimed at Arizona’s new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

Reid spokesman Kelly Steele, meanwhile, called the informal endorsement laughable.

“Hysterically, the latest of Sharron Angle’s rare endorsements for her tanking general election campaign is another out-of-stater,” Steele said.

Arpaio is a staunch Republican who has backed more than a dozen conservatives in races across the country this year to mixed results, saying he has “lost a few only because I go for the underdog and no one else would help,” he said.

He mentioned one Republican politician he’d like a little more recognition from – Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“The Nevada governor ought to be thanking me for stopping these illegals before they head to that state,” he said. “But I get no thanks.”