2018       General Election       Elected 50 – 48

What winning the West looks like

There are those who describe Kyrsten Sinema http://kyrstensinema.com/ as a centrist Democrat.  She describes herself as bipartisan.  Anyone (Ballotpedia is one) who described her as moderate should be laughed out of the room.

Begin with her upbringing.  Candidates for political office used to brag about having been born and raised in a log cabin. Kyrsten Sinema can talk about being raised in an abandoned gas station.  Her mom moved from Tuscon to the Florida panhandle after her divorce.  When her Florida stepdad lost his job, they became homeless.  For almost three years, they lived in the abandoned building with no electricity and no running water.  Cooking was with fires.  Showers were at a nearby uncle’s trailer.  Though they ultimately were able to find work and move to a house, they never really made it back to the middle class.

Kyrsten Sinema made the most of her circumstances. She won an Ezra Taft Benson scholarship to Brigham Young University.  She went on to Arizona State where she got a Master’s Degree in social work, a law degree, and a PhD.  Along the way, she became a school social worker, left the Mormon faith, religion altogether, and became bisexual.  She was and is unconventional. She ran unsuccessfully for the Phoenix City Council and the state legislature as an Independent affiliated with the Green Party. She supported Ralph Nader for President. At age 28,  she was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives as a Democrat, winning a primary with 37% of the vote. 

In the legislature, Kyrsten Sinerma’s  signature achievement was to lead the effort opposing a referendum to ban gay marriages.  Kyrsten Sinerma emphasized how the proposal would adversely affect unmarried heterosexual couples. Her skill at broadening the meaning of issues gained her recognition and support. That emphasis was described in her book, “United and Conquer.”  Her central point is that Americans share values.  Their representatives can work together successfully if they focus on the shared values rather than the solutions they have already set their minds on.  For her work in the legislature, Kyrsten Sinema won accolades. She was named the Sierra Club’s Most Valuable Player. She also won the Planned Parenthood Award, the Legislator of the Year Award from both the Arizona Public Health Association and the National Association of Social Workers, the  Legislative Hero Award from the Arizonal League of Conservation Voters, the Stonewall Democrats’ Legislator of the Year Award, and was named one of Time Magazine‘s 40 under 40.  In addition to all these outside awards, she became Assistant Minority Leader of the House Democratic Caucus. 

Kyrsten Sinema is outspoken.  Asked about “New Feminism,” she responded with disdain using language that newspapers rarely print.  Arizonans liked her style.  Redistricting created an evenly divided Congressional district for which Kyrsten Sinema won the primary with 41% of the vote and the election by 4%.  In the House of Representatives since 2012, she has had an opportunity to demonstrate her bipartisanship.

  • She joined the Solutions Caucus composed of Republicans and Democrats (like NJ 05 Josh Gottheimer and NY 03 Tom Suozzi about whom there are already Notes)
  • She was willing to change Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Protection Bureau’s  oversight to a bipartisan commission
  • With libertarian Justin Amash, she opposed the NSA’s collecting electronic information from people who are not subjects of investigations. She voted against Amash upon receiving assurances from the intelligence community that abuses did not occur intentionally and were cured quickly.
  • She supports the ACA explaining “I used to say that I wanted universal health-care coverage in Arizona, which went over like a ton of bricks. Turns out, Arizonans hear the word ‘universal’ and think ‘socialism’—or ‘pinko commie.’ But when I say that I want all Arizonans to have access to affordable, quality health care, Arizonans agree wholeheartedly. Same basic idea, different language.”
  • She had organized anti-war efforts before being elected to Congress and advocates against Israel’s occupation of what she calls Palestinian territories. 
  • She has argued for increased taxes rather than reductions in services.
  • She is an advocate for women’s health including women’s ability to choose an abortion.
  • She supports the DREAM act and opposes mass deportations of the undocumented
  • She supports tougher screening for refugees
  • On her website, she argues that if Congress doesn’t pass a budget, its members should not get paid.

It is hard to describe just how unusual Kyrsten Sinema is.   Elle magazine described her as a rare bird, “an exotic parrot in a town of dark-feathered wrens.”  An Arizona newspaper described her as Arizona’s best dressed politician.  She could also be described as Arizona’s best athlete politician.  She demonstrated extraordinary stamina by completing in an Ironman triathalon.  Here is another way that Kyrsten Sinemais unusual.  Her net worth is negative.  She has not been making money out of being in Congress.

Kyrsten Sinema has made a name for herself. She is a very successful politician, so successful the DSCC, urged her to run for the Senate.  She was a big catch because the Republican incumbent is vulnerable.  His approval ratings are lower than Trump’s.  He is facing a primary against a candidate Trump prefers, a candidate who is so extreme that the Republicans have been looking for a better candidate.  Now that he is pardoned, Joe Arpaio is causing some confusion because he is thinking about running.  

Whoever she runs against, Kyrsten Sinema has a real chance of winning.  She’ll need help.  The DSCC will help, but she will need more help than that. Give her some.  The election is just about 14 months away.  A monthly donation, no matter how small, is valuable.  Consider it.