July 14, 2024

Kyrsten Sinema drops out of the race for re-election

U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaking with attendees at the 2019 Update from Capitol Hill hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Arizona’s senior senator Kyrsten Sinema has announced she will not run for re-election this November. Sinema’s decision can be linked to a number of factors, among them are poor fundraising results and weak support from her constituents. 

In 2018, Sinema won a key battleground midterm election that helped the Democrats gain a majority in the Senate. However, Sinema quickly found herself at odds with party members when she joined West Virginia’s Joe Manchin in 2022 to vote against abolishing the filibuster. 

Manchin has also declined to seek reelection for his upcoming term. 

Sinema and Machin’s decision to vote in favor of the filibuster has been credited by their colleagues in the Senate as the reason reproductive rights weren’t codified following the Dobbs decision in 2022. Their vote has also been linked to President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan in mid-2021. 

Months after her vote in favor of the filibuster in late 2022, Sinema announced that she would leave the Democratic party and register as an Independent. Her split from the party exacerbated the already strained relationship between the left and right in the Senate by narrowing the Democratic majority to 50 members compared to the Republican’s 49. 

Aside from Sinema, there are two other independent senators currently serving in the US Senate. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine are not officially affiliated with either of the major parties, though they have historically caucused with the Democratic party and generally aligned themselves with the party’s values. 

Lake previously ran for governor of Arizona in 2022, but was defeated by Katie Hobbes.

Since 2022, Sinema has estranged herself from her Democratic colleagues by blocking progressive priorities close to the Democratic agenda and strengthening her friendships with Senate Republicans. 

Former GOP Arizona Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Representative Ruben Gallego from AZ-03 have announced their candidacy for the seat. Gallego and Lake both pulled ahead of Sinema for fundraising in the last quarter of 2023, just months ahead of her announcement. 

This fall, Democrats will have to defend 23 seats across the United States, including Ohio’s senior Senator Sherrod Brown. While Brown is currently leading Ohio with a narrow margin, his colleagues across the country are not. Current polls project the GOP will gain a narrow majority in November. 

As for the race in Arizona, Gallego led the polls ahead of Sinema’s exit from the race at a six point lead to Lake. While it’s not yet clear which of the remaining candidates will gain the majority of Sinema’s loyal base, this November will be a key race for party control in the Senate. 

In a video posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, Sinema expressed feeling as though she didn’t fit amongst the two parties. Many of her former colleagues have argued Sinema’s situation is a result of her own actions. 

Sinema is not the first senator to have echoed these and similar sentiments about the state of hyper-partisan politics in the Senate. In 2022, Ohio’s then-senator Rob Portman decided he would not run for another term because of crumbling bipartisan relationships. 

No debates are currently scheduled between the remaining candidates, though both have been seen along campaign trails with highly influential members of their respective parties.

Author

  • Josie Speakman

    Josie is a first-year Political Science major with a Spanish minor on a Pre-Law track. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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