Can Sinema win reelection as an independent in Arizona

Can Sinema win reelection as an independent in Arizona
Can Sinema win reelection as an independent in Arizona
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema announced on a CNN interview that she was leaving the Democratic Party and reregistering as an Independent she had this to say: “A growing number of Arizonans, people like me, just don’t fit neatly into one parties’ box or another.”

Which is certainly true. Registration numbers in the past election show Independents, or “others” on the Secretary of State’s website, could soon become the largest voting bloc in the state. There are already 134,000 more Independents than Democrats and they are only 32,000 behind the GOP and gaining fast.

They were largely responsible for Arizona turning blue in the last election but it wasn’t just the Independents.

“In this last election, you saw roughly 10% of the Republican voters that voted Democrat,” said Doug Cole, the COO or Arizona Highground, a political consulting firm in Phoenix. “Arizona voters are becoming more discerning, they’re not just automatically voting Republican and Democrat, they picking and choosing.”

Which is essentially how Sinema won in 2018, with a broad coalition of voters, but she now has more to overcome. If she announces for re-election, which she has not done yet, but is assumed she will.

Polls show she is generally not popular among any voting bloc, but if the parties nominate extreme candidates.. which party primaries tend to do, she could have a path.

“She will own the middle and with proper funding, that’s a potential path to victory,” Cole said. “Will it be easy? No. But Arizona’s got it’s own politics, especially of late.”

Sinema’s announcement was met with what appears to be resignation and indignation. Arizona congressman Raul Grijalva said “her alignment with wealthy and corporate interests has crippled her ability to support the Democratic agenda. Her decision, while disappointing, does not shift the balance of power..”

And there are other forces already working to defeat her if she chooses to run in 2024. “For people like me who have worked for her, for Arizonans who volunteered for her and Arizonans who voted for her, this inability to stand up for your own campaign promises has felt like a slap in the face,” said Sacha Haworth, the former communications director for the Sinema campaign.

Sinema, who has labeled herself as a maverick on the order of the late senator John McCain will likely use, in part, his playbook to make her pitch to voters.

“You don’t need the political parties to win in Arizona,” Cole said. “John McCain won his last election without the party behind him.”

And Sinema, like McCain, has been censured by their own party.