FLORENCE, Ariz. — The first thing to know about Mark Lamb, the sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona, is that he just plain looks like a sheriff. It could be the Justin cowboy hat he wears pulled low over his eyes and his penchant for Western shirts and a tactical vest in lieu of a uniform. It could be his demeanor, at once confident and aw-shucks. It could be his size — he's 6'3", 240 pounds, or so he writes in his self-published book, American Sheriff: Traditional Values in a Modern World.
In public, Lamb commands attention. During a July interview at a local café here decked out in Old West paraphernalia, passersby interrupted to clasp hands heartily with him and chat. There was an older Latino man named Randy wearing a snap-pocket shirt who had recently retired from a wild horse-and-burro program at the nearby prison and asked Lamb if he knew any cowboys. There were middle-aged women with salon-styled hair hoping to take their picture with him. There was the waitress who told Lamb he needed to gain weight. They seemed unsurprised to see their sheriff talking to a reporter and flashing his TV-ready smile.