Four months ago, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema left the Democratic Party and registered as an independent. This move created new challenges for her, but in two recent articles, Sinema made clear she plans to pave her own way in Congress.
Democrats have held the majority in the Senate by very slim margins over the past two years. This has allowed moderate senators like Sinema and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to exert power over the party’s legislative agenda.
Sinema was recently profiled by The Atlantic and The New York Times, where she discussed how she decides how she will vote. She also spoke about her more radical past, when she organized protests against the Iraq war. Now, Sinema said, she wants to put her “idealistic progressive” views behind her.
But even with the publication of two lengthy articles, her political future is still unclear.
Sinema dodges questions about seeking reelection in 2024
In her interview with The Atlantic, she said she hasn’t decided whether she will seek reelection in 2024, but writer McKay Coppins wrote that she “talks like someone who’s not planning on it.”
In his recent profile of Sinema, New York Times Magazine writer Robert Draper had a different take: “Nothing she said in our conversations left me with the impression that she was putting a few final touches on her senatorial legacy on her way out the door to the private sector.”
In April, the Arizona senator was holding staff retreats and meetings, reportedly outlining a timeline for a possible reelection bid, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Still, Sinema isn’t doing very well in the polls. In a potential matchup, a recent poll found that Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., led with 42% of support, Kari Lake, the former Arizona gubernatorial candidate and the possible Republican nominee, ranked second with 35%, and Sinema trailed behind with 14%.
Sinema said she wants to attract those voters who are fed up and looking for other options.
“Arizonans know I will work with anyone — in either party — to get things done for our state,” she told Draper.
Still considered a purple state, Democrats have won the last three U.S. Senate elections in Arizona, as well as the governorship.
Sinema’s somewhat abstract ideology
Sinema has served in the Senate since 2019. Before that, she was a representative for six years. She told The Atlantic that she is guided more by her values than ideology.
She said she values “freedom, opportunity, and security.” “And if taking every policy question on a case-by-case basis bewilders some in Washington, Sinema says it’s just her nature,” Coppins wrote.
Sinema typically votes center, or center right, according to GovTrack, which compiles data on lawmakers.
She told the Times that she stays away from contributing to the noise and wasting time by not caucusing with the Democrats and not appearing on the Sunday talk shows.
Sinema also continues to befriend other “outlier” senators, the Times article says, like Manchin and Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah. She sat next to Manchin and Romney during Biden’s State of the Union address, according to Arizona Central.
She and Romney dressed up as the lead characters in Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” during the Build Back Better negotiations.
“It was my team’s idea,” Romney told the Times, “and she was happy to play along.”