Still a year and a half out from the 2018 general election, the most intriguing game on which the YS is trying to divine the outcome is whether current Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD 9) will run against our state's Republican junior US Senator, Jeff Flake. Flake's first term runs through the end of 2018.
From the May 4 (May the Fourth be with you!) YS,
LET THE 2022 SPECULATION COMMENCE
Sinema appears to have only ramped up speculations over her US Senate ambitions even after telling KTAR’s Darin Damme in an interview yesterday that she’ll be running for re-election in CD9 (LINK). When asked point-blank whether she could definitively say that she wouldn’t run against Flake, Sinema responded, “I’m running for re-election and it’s been the greatest honor of my life. It has been really the greatest honor of my life to serve Arizona’s 9th district.”
One Dem operative speculated that Sinema was dissuaded from a US Senate run at least in part by the backlash to her “bungled response” to the recent controversy over contributions she received from the founders of Backpage.com. But the source said the main driver of her decision was likely the dearth of enthusiasm for her among the Dem base. “Kyrsten does fine with independents and there probably was a pathway, but I think politics right now is all about energy and enthusiasm,” said the source, who noted that Sinema was largely silent about Trump during last year’s presidential campaign. “It makes it a trickier pathway, even if it’s a good Democratic year.”
Many Dems are now waiting to see what Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who was widely expected to run for CD9 if Sinema runs against Flake, will do. The Dem operative said Stanton has plenty of options, including US Senate, governor and secretary of state, for which he’s already filed a campaign committee, and even a potential primary challenge to Sinema in CD9. But though there’s been increasing buzz around a possible Stanton gubernatorial run, the source was skeptical that Stanton would jump into the race for Arizona’s highest office. “I’ve heard that more from the press than I’ve heard it from... people around him,” the source said.
Sinema’s apparent decision not to challenge Flake leaves the Dem side of next year’s Senate race wide open. Among the potential candidates whose names are floating around are Stanton and [state Rep. Randy] Friese [D-Tucson], who told our reporter yesterday that he’s considering both that race and CD2. And at least one Dem insider isn’t convinced that Sinema is completely out of the running for US Senate, telling our reporter that her comments on KTAR weren’t especially definitive. “I don’t know that she’s made up her mind, to be honest with you,” the source said.And from the May 5 YS,
THE EMPHASIS IS ON “CURRENTLY,” NOT “RE-ELECTION”
The conclusion that Sinema won’t run for US Senate next year may have been a bit premature. 12News’ Brahm Resnik reported last night that Sinema had not, in fact, ruled out a run against Flake (LINK).
Resnik said several Dem sources told him that Sinema’s people spent Thursday morning making phone calls to assure them that the congresswoman hasn’t made a decision yet about the Senate race and that “nothing’s changed.” He said he contacted Sinema via text message, and that she told him only, “I’ve said what I always say. I’m currently running for reelection,” and that Resnik should “check out her interview.”[posted at the KTAR link above] As Resnik noted in his story, Sinema did not actually disavow a Senate run in her interview on Wednesday with KTAR’s Darin Damme, in which she responded to questions about the race by saying she’s running for re-election in CD9. Sinema told our reporter the same, saying in a text message today, “I love serving Arizona and I am currently running for re-election.” Sinema did not respond to a follow-up text asking if she could definitively say that she wouldn’t run for the US Senate in 2018.
[AZ Senate Democratic Leader Katie] Hobbs told our reporter that she hasn’t spoken with Sinema, but said she “absolutely” believes Sinema is still considering a challenge to Flake. While KTAR stated flatly that Sinema had ruled out a Senate run, Hobbs said, “That’s not what she said at all.” “It’s not a secret she’s looking at [the US] Senate and I think she’ll do it when she feels like it’s winnable.
That might be now. It might be in 2022,” said Hobbs, who would likely benefit from a Sinema campaign for Senate, since it would likely entice Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton out of the secretary of state’s race and into CD9. One Dem insider told our reporter that Sinema’s people put out the word following the KTAR story that “whatever anybody thought she said the night before... she didn’t say it and needs to reconsider.” Another Dem source said Sinema’s inarticulate answer to Damme’s questions caused the resulting confusion about her 2018 plans. “It just seems like she tried to get a little bit too cute with KTAR and wants to keep her options open,” the source said.Okay then...
Lot's of speculation, not much concrete with which to actually make educated guesses. However, I think Hobbs is on to something with her suggestion Sinema might be considering 2022 instead of 2018. John McCain's current term runs through 2022. Plenty of people thought he was too old to run in 2016. Does anyone believe he'd run for re-election in 2022?
Whether or not anyone has done any actual polling to determine if Sinema was at all hurt by how she handled campaign contributions from the Backpage.com owners, it is likely very true that she hasn't exactly endeared herself to Democratic grassroots activists in CD 9. Except for obvious hot button issues like Obamacare "repeal and replace," under the guise of bipartisanship, Sinema has voted regularly with Republicans.
By the way, I wouldn't characterize Sinema's responses to KTAR questions as inarticulate. She's a very smart woman who knows how to be purposefully vague when she needs to be.
Here's the thing nobody has thus far mentioned, which I'm confident that Sinema either is considering or should consider.
Last month Jeff Flake showed a tremendous amount of poise during a rowdy and raucous town hall meeting in Mesa.
My hunch is that Flake's poise scared Sinema into liking the idea of running for re-election to her seat in the US House a whole lot more.
Sinema has an Achilles's heel. When faced with hostility... or even just difficult pointed questions, she simply acts as if the questioner is a non-entity. She then refuses to make eye contact with the person, refuses to call on her or him and all around acts like the person simply does not exist.
That's avoidance behavior. It's a coping mechanism. It doesn't fit in the American political system unless the person goes with the flow as opposed to challenging the status quo.
In Arizona, the status quo is Republican.
Of course, I could be completely off base. See if Sinema is secure enough to hold a town hall meeting and take hostile questions about her voting record.
Sen. Flake didn't control who could attend his town hall.