Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema will not seek re-election in Arizona

By | March 5, 2024

Kyrsten Sinema, the former Arizona Democrat and independent in the U.S. Senate, said Tuesday that she will not seek re-election this year.

“I love Arizona and I am so proud of what we have delivered,” Sinema said in a video on social media. “Because I choose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get things done, I will leave the Senate at the end of this year.”

The news is a boost for Sinema’s old party, which faces a tough task in retaining control of the Senate in November elections.

Ruben Gallego, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and congressman, is clearly the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination in Arizona, but has lagged in the polls behind extremist, election-denying, pro-Trump Republican candidate Kari Lake.

Both sides will now bring Sinema’s remaining supporters to justice.

Sinema’s ideological journey from the Green party to the Democratic left and then as a centrist independent has been a source of incessant speculation and reporting, not least about what she might do next. She said last year that she would not become a Republican, but otherwise kept her plans to herself.

Sinema also caused enormous frustration among progressives.

With significant power in a closely divided Senate, she and Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, exerted significant influence over the Biden administration’s policy priorities.

The two senators supported Covid relief and infrastructure legislation but also acted to block an effort to weaken the filibuster, the Senate rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority for most legislation, a virtually impossible feat. target in such a partisan and closely divided chamber. .

Activists and Democratic Party officials knew that filibuster reform was necessary to pass voting rights protections designed to counter Republican-led voter suppression in key states. Sinema’s own state Democratic Party formally condemned her on the issue.

In a western sunbelt state that shifted from Republican red to Democratic blue — or perhaps to swing-state purple — Sinema first served in the U.S. House of Representatives, then won her Senate seat in 2018, becoming the first non-Republican to represent Arizona represented in the upper echelons. Chamber since 1994.

To win that seat, she defeated Martha McSally, the Republican successor to John McCain, a giant in American politics who held this seat for 31 years and was the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.

In March 2021, Sinema sparked controversy — and progressive anger — with a gesture apparently learned from or used in tribute to McCain, a senator widely known as a political maverick who was willing to defeat his own party.

In 2017, McCain’s famous “thumbs down” gesture on the Senate floor defeated a Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

Three years later, Sinema used the same gesture to express her opposition to the minimum wage increase.

In December 2022, Sinema announced her move to become independent, which once again enraged the left.

On Tuesday, Nina Turner, former campaign chair for Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said said: “Kyrsten Sinema’s legacy as a senator will be that she upheld the filibuster, abolished legislation enshrining voting and reproductive rights, doubled child poverty by not expanding the child tax credit, and raised the minimum wage killed.”

In her own statement, Sinema heralded her work across the aisle in the Senate, naming Republican allies including Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman, a former senator from Ohio, but lamenting that “Americans are still in favor choose to retreat further to their partisan corners.”

“It’s all or nothing,” she said, “the outcome is less important than beating the other person. The only political victories that matter these days are symbolic: attacking your opponents on cable news or social media. Compromise is a dirty word. We have arrived at that crossroads and have chosen anger and division. I believe in my approach, but it is not what America wants right now.”

What America has now is a bitter partisan divide, as sharply expressed in Arizona, a flashpoint for Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Replace Sinema Pac, a group created to oppose Sinema, said the senator “obstructed President Biden’s agenda, stood in the way of fundamental rights… and did what her wealthy donors wanted.” It took credit for her departure, saying, “Arizonans deserve better.”

Steve Daines of Montana, the Republican Senate campaign chairman, told CNN he was not surprised by Sinema’s announcement and claimed polls showed Lake would benefit more than Gallego from Sinema’s departure.

“It gives us another great opportunity, a new seat on the Senate map,” Daines said said.

In a statement, Lake said said Sinema “shares my love for Arizona,” wished her “the best in her next chapter” and attacked Gallego as “far left” and a “radical.”

In his own statement, Gallego thanked Sinema “for her nearly twenty years of service to our state.” said: “Arizona, we are at a crossroads.

“Protecting access to abortion, addressing housing affordability, securing our water supply, defending our democracy – all this and more is at stake. It is time for Democrats, independents and Republicans to come together and reject Kari Lake and her dangerous positions.”

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