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Kyrsten Sinema won’t seek reelection to U.S. Senate

Kyrsten Sinema
U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in April 2022.

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Tuesday she won’t seek a second term, ending months of speculation about her reelection prospects as a senator without a party.

“I love Arizona and I am so proud of what we’ve delivered,” she said in a video posted to social media. “Because I choose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get stuff done, I will leave the Senate at the end of this year.”

Sinema’s election odds were grim following her split with the Democratic Party, whose voters nominated her as their candidate for one of Arizona’s U.S. Senate seats in 2018. 

Her general election win that year was historic — she became Arizona’s first female senator, and the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in the state in three decades, as well as the first openly bisexual person elected to the Senate.

But during her term in office, many Democrats soured on Sinema, who at times blocked progressive priorities, and was criticized for favoring business interests over her own constituents. Some were particularly incensed by her support for maintaining the Senate’s filibuster rule, which essentially gives Republicans a veto over Democratic policies despite holding the majority.

Those divisions led her to leave the party in late 2022, and instantly sparked speculation about her campaign plans at the end of her term in 2024.

On Tuesday, she acknowledged that not all voters have an appetite for her brand of politics.

"Compromise is a dirty word. We’ve arrived at that crossroads and we chose anger and division,” Sinema said. “I believe in my approach, but it’s not what America wants right now."

In her statement, Sinema boasted of what compromise has brought the country and the state of Arizona, such as a bipartisan infrastructure law passed in 2021.

“These solutions are considered failures either because they are too much, or not nearly enough. It’s all or nothing,” Sinema said. “The outcome, less important than beating the other guy.”

After dodging questions about her reelection plans for months, Sinema’s decision avoids a rare three-way race for the U.S. Senate. 

Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego is widely expected to secure his party’s nomination in the Senate race, while failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, having already been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

In a statement, Gallego thanked Sinema for her nearly two decades in Arizona politics, dating back to her election to the Arizona Legislature as a Democrat, and cast himself as an alternative candidate for the state’s many independent voters, some of whom may have supported Sinema’s candidacy.

“Democrats, independents, and Republicans alike are coming together and rejecting Kari Lake and her dangerous positions,” Gallego said. “I welcome all Arizonans, including Sen. Sinema, to join me in that mission.”

Lake, too, sought to capitalize on Sinema’s decision to forgo the race by playing up Sinema’s independent streak.

“Sen. Sinema had the courage to stand tall against the Far-Left in defense of the filibuster—despite the overwhelming pressure from the radicals in her party like Ruben Gallego who called on her to burn it all down,” Lake posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Arizonans will not be fooled by Gallego. I will be a voice for ALL Arizonans,” Lake added.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.