And then her votes started coming in, and she's basically the most conservative woman Democrat in either chamber these days, with a FiveThirtyEight Trump Score of 58.5%. Among her fellow Democrats, only Joe Manchin in the Senate and Henry Cuellar and Collin Peterson in the House vote more often with Trump.
Little surprise then that she's now squarely poised to become Jeff Flake's replacement in the Senate where her first vote in the upper chamber will almost certainly be against Chuck Schumer as leader.
All over the country, Republicans are attacking vulnerable Democratic senators as pawns of Chuck Schumer, the most polarizing Democratic leader second only to Nancy Pelosi.
Kyrsten Sinema, one of the party’s most-prized recruits and a keystone of Democrats’ long-shot hopes of capturing the Senate this fall, has a ready rejoinder.
“I am not going to vote for him,” she said matter of factly when pressed on her view of the Democratic leader.
Sinema’s stance, revealed for the first time in a recent interview with POLITICO, is more radical than any member of the Democratic caucus, even vulnerable senators facing reelection deep in Trump country. But Sinema is staking her surprisingly strong campaign for Arizona’s open Senate seat on her close relationships with Republicans, praise for moderate Democrats and a distaste for the Democratic leader.
Her opposition to Schumer is just one example of how the three-term House member is carving out a center-left Senate campaign in the Republican state, hoping it’s enough to inoculate herself from the national party’s baggage and land Democrats their first Arizona Senate seat in 30 years.
She is notably more deferential to Trump than most Democrats are. “He has challenges,” she responded when asked whether Trump is a good president. “Transitioning from a CEO position to a presidency is probably a difficult challenge.”
Facing a daunting map that heavily favors Republicans, Arizona is a must-win for Democrats’ hopes of capturing the Senate. For Sinema, the race is the culmination of years of careful calculations and transformations that began even before she was elected to the House in 2012.
Sinema worked for progressive activist Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign and once unsuccessfully ran for the Arizona state House under the Green Party banner. But she has walked a far more moderate path in Congress — sometimes to criticism from her liberal colleagues — joining the conservative Blue Dog Democrats and voting with President Donald Trump nearly 60 percent of the time.
Now the self-described workout addict and part-time university professor spends weekends and congressional recesses crisscrossing Arizona, running full throttle in a race blown open by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake’s impending retirement. Recent polls have shown Sinema with a sizable lead, and privately top Republicans are alarmed that the race might be getting out of reach.
While Sinema, 41, builds up her name recognition and a $6 million-plus war chest,Republicans are engaging in a slugfest of a primary that will go on deep into August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) to emerge from a three-way primary against former state Sen. Kelli Ward and ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, but Democrats say McSally is being pushed too far to the right to beat Sinema.
With no real opponent — Schumer privately backed her for the seat even before she’d announced, helping clear the field — Sinema can press her advantage. She leads McSally by an average of 8 points, according to Real Clear Politics.
That's Chuck Schumer for you, he clears the decks for Sinema to run unopposed in the primary and she turns around and knifes him in the front. I've said this before, but dear god I miss Harry Reid.
Still, if Sinema wins, she's going to be another problematic Blue Dog for sure. That's certainly an improvement over Martha McSally, who makes Marsha Blackburn over in Tennessee look sane by comparison, but in a Blue wave scenario, both Sinema and Democrat Phil Bredesen will join the ranks of the Blue Dogs on the D side in red states. It may be the two pickups the Dems need to control the Senate.
Like it or not, Sinema just might be a key player in 2019.