Here’s how the process will work if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema seeks reelection as an independent

Dec 9, 2022, 11:17 AM | Updated: 4:45 pm
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)...
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PHOENIX — As an independent, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema would face a “burdensome” set of qualifying requirements to get on the ballot if she seeks reelection in 2024, an Arizona election law expert said Friday.

Sinema announced Friday she will leave the Democratic Party and register as an independent, saying she will “reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington.”

Arizona’s senior senator would need to gather a significantly higher signature minimum than party-affiliated candidates but would move directly to the general election if meets the threshold, election lawyer and former state elections director Eric Spencer told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Signature minimum requirements won’t be known until early 2024. Spencer estimated Sinema would need about 45,000 signatures, far greater than the typical 7,000-8,000 needed to get onto a party primary ballot.

“[Sinema] is allowed to gather from every eligible registered voter in Arizona, including Republicans,” Spencer said. “Whereas if she had stayed a Democrat, she would not have been allowed to collect signatures from Republicans or Libertarians.

“So the pool is broader and that makes up for the fact that the quantity is much bigger.”

Even though Sinema wouldn’t face a primary, she wouldn’t have more time to secure signatures.

Each Arizona voter can only sign one petition regardless of party, so Spencer believes Sinema would be smart to start collecting signatures immediately.

“She’d be well advised to start hitting the streets immediately,” Spencer said. “She’ll have to convince Republicans and Democrats that they should use their one available signature on her and I assume that means getting to them first and she could box out her opponents in that way.”

Sinema told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Friday she isn’t thinking about potential reelection.

“I’m not thinking about or talking about campaigns at all,” Sinema said. “I’m known for being a workhorse, so I’m going put my head down and keep doing the work right now.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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Here’s how the process will work if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema seeks reelection as an independent