Support has been mixed since the Pinal County sheriff found himself embroiled in allegations that he threatened to have his ex-boyfriend deported. Babeu denies any wrongdoing.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu built a reputation as a rising, conservative star by taking a hardline stance against illegal immigration, attacking the Obama administration and appearing alongside Sen. John McCain in a 2010 re-election ad in which McCain urged federal officials to just "complete the danged fence."
But, on Saturday, Babeu's conservative image took a beating as he was forced to confirm publicly that he is gay and was involved in a relationship with a Mexican immigrant who claims the sheriff threatened to have him deported if he revealed their relationship.
Nearly 800 people commented on Babeu’s Facebook page under a statement posted by the sheriff denying the “false allegations” but acknowledged that he is homosexual.
Saturday's revelation has already led Babeu to call presidential candidate Mitt Romney's staff to say he would step down from his post as state campaign co-chair. "There is no question that his budding congressional campaign is over," longtime Arizona Republican political consultant Sean Noble wrote on his blog. "Because it is a Republican primary in a conservative district, it's likely that the thing that hurts him the most is that he was in a gay relationship."
“The issue is not sexual orientation,” Patricia Selliger commented. “The issue is hypocrisy — a public stand on border security all the while allowing an illegal alien to work on your website and conducting a personal relationship with him. If we expect employers to verify employees’ status, public figures should be held to the same standard.”