Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won Arizona’s open Senate seat
in a race that was among the most closely watched in the
Sinema defeated Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the
battle to replace GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.
The three-term congresswoman won after a slow vote
count that dragged on for nearly a week after voters went to
the polls on November 6.
Sinema will be Arizona’s first Democratic US senator
PHOENIX (AP) — Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won Arizona’s open U.S.
Senate seat Monday in a race that was among the most closely
watched in the nation, beating Republican Rep. Martha McSally in
the battle to replace GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.
The three-term congresswoman won after a slow vote count that
dragged on for nearly a week after voters went to the polls on
Nov. 6. She becomes Arizona’s first Democratic U.S. senator since
1994. Her win cemented Arizona as a swing state after years of
Sinema portrayed herself as a moderate who works across the aisle
to get things done.
McSally, a former Air Force pilot who embraced President Donald
Trump after opposing him during the 2016 elections, had claimed
that Sinema’s anti-war protests 15 years ago disqualified her and
said one protest amounted to what she called “treason.”
But during her six years in Congress, Sinema built one of most
centrist records in the Democratic caucus, and she voted for
bills backed by Trump more than 60 percent of the time. She
backed legislation increasing penalties against people in the
country illegally who commit crimes.
McSally’s attacks on Sinema reached back more than 15 years, when
Sinema was a Green Party spokeswoman and liberal activist.
McSally backed Trump’s tax cut, border security and the
Affordable Care Act repeal agenda as she survived a three-way GOP
primary in August, defeating two conservative challengers who
claimed her support for Trump was fake. McSally also campaigned
on her military record and support for the Armed Forces.
Sinema attacked McSally’s leadership of last year’s failed
Affordable Care Act repeal effort as a sign that she would not
protect Arizona residents with preexisting medical conditions.
McSally argued that she would protect patients, despite her vote
on the bill that would have removed many of those protections.
The contest drew more than $90 million in spending, including
more than $58 million by outside groups, according to Federal
Election Commission reports. Attack ads by both sides clogged the
airwaves for months.
Sinema, 42, has a law degree, worked as a social worker and was a
political activist in her 20s, running as an independent Green
Party candidate for the Arizona House. She then became a Democrat
and served several terms in the state Legislature. Sinema started
as an overt liberal but developed a reputation for compromise
among her Republican peers, laying the groundwork to tack to the
When the 9th Congressional District was created after the 2010
Census, Sinema ran for the Phoenix-area seat as a centrist and
won the 2012 election.
McSally, 52, was the first female Air Force pilot to fly in
combat, flying A-10 attack jets. She also was the first woman to
command a fighter squadron, again in A-10s.
McSally lost her first race in Arizona’s 2nd congressional
district in 2012, when she was narrowly defeated by Democratic
Rep. Ron Barber, who replaced Rep. Gabby Giffords after she was
wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt. But McSally came back to
win the 2014 election, beating Barber by a narrow margin. She was
re-elected in 2016.
Flake was an outspoken critic of Trump and announced in 2017 that
he would not seek re-election, acknowledging he could not win a
GOP primary in the current political climate. His support of the
president’s initiatives, however, was mixed. He strongly backed
last year’s tax cut bill but criticized Trump’s positions on free