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Kyrsten Sinema Is Leaving the Senate

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) announced on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection in 2024. The move clears the way for a showdown between Democrat Ruben Gallego and Republican Kari Lake in what will be one of the most consequential races this year.

In a video message released on social media, Sinema claimed that despite her successes and efforts to promote unity and understanding “Americans still chose to retreat farther into their partisan corners.”

“I believe in my approach, but it’s not what America wants right now. I love Arizona, and I’m so proud of what we’ve delivered. Because I chose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get stuff done, I will leave the Senate at the end of this year,” she said.

Sinema was facing a tough reelection bid in 2024, as Gallego, a Democratic congressman, and Lake, the Trump-loving Republican, are both vying for her seat.

Even within her state, the senator’s frequent fence-straddling and breaks with party leadership earned rebukes from Arizona Democrats. In 2022, the state party censured Sinema after she refused to support Senate efforts to end the filibuster. Later that year, Sinema left the Democratic Party entirely and changed her affiliation to independent.

During her tenure in the Senate, Sinema frequently clashed with her fellow Democrats as she worked to foil and water down President Joe Biden’s core agenda items. She was, however, beloved by both Republican politicians and special interest groups, who poured millions into her coffers and ran TV ads touting her independence.

During Biden’s presidency, Sinema helped water down Democrats’ legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices; opposed the party’s plan to add dental and vision benefits to traditional Medicare; persuaded Democrats not to end the notorious “carried interest” loophole that benefits billionaire private equity executives; and opposed efforts to increase corporate taxes more broadly. She enthusiastically voted down a measure to enact a $15 minimum wage, with a thumbs down and curtsy on the Senate floor, before speaking at a conference for restaurant lobbyists.

Sinema also led the fight against ending the filibuster — the Senate rule requiring 60 votes to pass most legislation. The rule effectively functions as corporate lobbying groups’ killswitch over legislation. Preserving it helped Republicans block voting rights legislation, among other promised Democratic agenda items.

According to retiring Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Sinema told him she had no fear of losing reelection, explaining: “I can go on any board I want to.”

In 2022, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is also retiring this year, gushed about Sinema, calling her “the most effective first-term senator” he’d ever seen.

In a statement released through his campaign, Gallego thanked Sinema for her “nearly two decades of service to our state.”

“Arizona is at a crossroads. Protecting abortion access, tackling housing affordability, securing our water supply, defending our democracy — all of this and more is on the line. That’s why Democrats, independents, and Republicans alike are coming together and rejecting Kari Lake and her dangerous positions. I welcome all Arizonans, including Senator Sinema, to join me in that mission,” he added.

Lake also released a statement acknowledging Sinema’s retirement, commending her “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,” and wishing her well in her future endeavors.

While Sinema would like to blame her retirement on the American public being too divided for her to succeed, the reality is that she was likely facing a humiliating defeat at the hands of Arizona voters who saw right through the facade. As of March, Sinema was polling a distant third behind Gallego and Lake. She’d never lost an election, and it seems fleeing looked better than fighting.

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