Thursday, October 5, 2017

By now Arizonans interested in the 2018 election have learned of Kyrsten Sinema's intentions

In early May, "railbirds" started speculating en masse about what has actually been an open secret for the last couple of years -- Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema's intention to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. I was not convinced.

Shortly before then, Arizona's current junior Senator, Jeff Flake, had demonstrated tremendous poise under a several hours long heated (verbal) attack at a local Town Hall meeting.

Based on Flake's performance at the Town Hall and my experience with Sinema, it seemed to me that she'd have a hard time matching his composure under the (verbal) fire of angry citizens.

That may still be the case but Sinema waited several months before making her announcement, allowing for the fury over the Town Hall to subside. That may or may not end up being a smart tactical (or strategic) move.

However, given the fact that he is far from a lock to win the GOP primary nomination for reelection to the Senate, Flake has -- at least for now -- lost any momentum going into the 2018 election season.

From the October 3 Yellow Sheet Report:
Flake’s re-election campaign and Republicans have a good reason to be jittery, according to Nathan Gonzales, who publishes Inside Elections. A railbird sent our reporter an excerpt from Gonzales’ latest overview of US Senate races, and how Sinema’s entry has changed the dynamics in Arizona. “There is one rating change: Arizona from Tilt Republican to Toss-Up,” his memo said. “After publicly feuding with President Trump, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake is vulnerable in the primary and general elections, to the point where he might not even run for re-election.
Also from the October 3 YS:
One Republican railbird noted how Sinema’s Senate announcement video last week struck a decidedly different tone than other statewide Dem candidates. While Garcia and Farley have focused on progressive issues like free tuition and Medicare for all, Sinema’s video is much more moderate, focusing on service, church and country, the railbird said. “It’s not just a moderate message. It was almost a John McCain ad about serving the country and just filled with dog-whistles to Republicans about church, about service. She really is clearly reaching out to Republicans,” the railbird said...
From the October 5 YS:
Gonzales adds that Sinema is a credible opponent for the general election, with her impressive fundraising numbers and record as a moderate. “She’s regarded as a hard worker and energetic, even if her introductory video didn’t reflect it,” Gonzales notes.
As to Flake's vulnerability in this election, many observers discount chemtrail Kelli Ward. But here's the YS take on the subject, quoting Gonzales on the subject.
In a video, Nathan Gonzales, an elections analyst for Roll Call and editor of Inside Elections, explained his reasoning behind moving Arizona’s US Senate into the toss-up category today (LINK). Gonzales says Flake’s numbers are “so bad” that strategists on both sides are wondering if he will even try to keep his seat. First, Gonzales notes that Flake isn’t starting from a strong position – he didn’t win a majority of the vote in 2012 and he underperformed Mitt Romney. Plus, his repeated clashes with Trump have not endeared him to the Republican base, Gonzales says. And while Ward is considered a “punchline” in Beltway circles for losing to McCain and over her chemtrail hearing, Gonzales cautions against discounting her. “Those attacks don’t move as many voters as you might think. She’s improving as a candidate and maybe most importantly, she isn’t an incumbent serving in Washington,” he says. He adds that Flake’s book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” only made his problems worse: “Even if Flake was making a principled point, it might have been political suicide. Alienating Trump supporters in a Republican primary is not a good strategy if the goal is to win.” (emphasis mine)
A side note from the October 3 YS:
The moderate tone could make Sinema more likely to invite progressive challengers for a Democratic primary, the railbird guessed, but Sinema’s strategy is more likely to prevail in a state where Dems face a voter registration and turnout disadvantage.
Clearly, Sinema has (already) thumbed her nose at Progressive-leaning voters. But she also already has a capable, energetic Progressive challenger in Deedra Abboud

The newest name mentioned as a primary election challenger to Flake is GOP lawyer and member of the Arizona Board of Regents (which oversees the state university system) is Jay Heiler. From the October 5 New York Times,
... Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has taken aim at Mr. Trump, appears so weakened with Republican voters that there is increasingly talk of contingency planning should he not run again or seek re-election as an independent.
If he remains in the race, Mr. Flake, who currently faces one opponent on the right, appears likely to draw additional challengers.
A wealthy Arizona lawyer, Jay Heiler, said in an interview that he is considering a run against Mr. Flake. Mr. Heiler, a close ally of former Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, an immigration hawk, said the state should have a senator who gives full support to Mr. Trump.
Personally, I discount focus on Flake's conflicts with Trump. But what do I know, eh?