JIM SHARPE

Kyrsten Sinema’s short Senate stay was historic — now get ready for her fortuitous future

Mar 6, 2024, 12:00 PM

The “will she… won’t she?” speculation is finally over for U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. 

Not the speculation regarding whether she’d take the colors and ruffles of her dresses to new heights — but, instead, the speculation of whether she’ll walk the halls of the Capitol for another six years wearing bright yellow.

She announced that she will not seek reelection to the Senate and be a part of (what would’ve been) an historic three-way race in our state. A state that’s already under the national political microscope for being a presidential swing state.

The person that let out the biggest sigh of relief is Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego — who is up by ten points over Republican Kari Lake without Sinema in Arizona’s 2024 Senate race, according to a recent poll from Noble Predictive Insights.

But rather than just looking at the here-and-now of Sinema’s decision, I think it’s worth taking a moment to look back at how historic her election and short run in the Senate has been.

In 2018, she became the first woman elected to the Senate by Arizonans.

Sinema was the country’s first openly bisexual senator. (A real “in-your-face” to the people who claim Arizona’s a bigoted place.)

She was the first Arizona Democrat elected to the Senate since Dennis DeConcini in 1988. 

And then, at the end of 2022, Sinema “un-became” a Democrat when she registered as an independent and became one of only two independent US senators. 

Like Barry Goldwater and John McCain before her, she is an Arizona senator with national prominence. She seems to always be in the middle of negotiations between Republicans and Democrats — which puts Arizona in the spotlight.

But ASU history Professor Brooks Simpson told me on Arizona’s Morning News that her prominence has come at the expense of being popular with local Democrats. (Honestly, far-left Dems were protesting her at weddings and in bathrooms… it was embarrassing.) 

The reason that a freshman senator like her could have the kind of juice that she’s had in the upper chamber of Congress is by her taking advantage of the razor-thin majority that Democrats have in the Senate — smart politics.

Kyrsten Sinema’s short run in the Senate shows me that despite what we say about hating our two-party system and how we want non-partisan politicians who act independently, we don’t really mean it.

And it shows me that Sinema is really smart. She used what was handed to her to have maximum impact — often to the benefit of our state.

Kyrsten Sinema is so smart, I’d vote for her to come work for me if I had my own business.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Sinema, a woman who’s had an impact on Arizona’s history — no matter how short that history’s been. 

Jim Sharpe

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Kyrsten Sinema’s short Senate stay was historic — now get ready for her fortuitous future