ASU students weigh in on Arizona senate race

Students express their views on the highly anticipated 2018 U.S. senate race

Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is gunning for Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s seat, hoping to be Arizona's first Democratic Senator in 20 years.

Sinema, an ASU alumna and lecturer, represents Arizona's 9th district, which includes the Tempe Campus.

David Huff, a sophomore majoring in political science, said he likes Sinema, a moderate, because of her ability to work across the aisle. He blamed both Democrats and Republicans for ineffectiveness in Congress. 

“That’s something that’s important, especially in our polarized climate,” Huff said. “The government isn’t able to get to a lot of ... work done, because there’s not a lot of working across the aisle among Democrats and Republicans.”

Flake’s seat is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Senate seats up for reelection in 2018, with challengers both in and out of his own party. President Donald Trump fell just short of endorsing his Republican challenger, Dr. Kelli Ward, a former state senator, tweeting in August it was “great” to see Ward challenging Flake, whom he called weak on borders. 

Flake has questioned the necessity of Trump’s border wall in favor of a more moderate stance on immigration. 

Trump's former White House strategist Steve Bannon endorsed Ward at an Arizona campaign event on Tuesday.

Ward has campaigned as a strong Trump supporter, attacking Flake's stances on president’s immigration policies. Both Sinema and Flake have supported the DREAM Act, following President Trump's decision to give Congress six months to find a legislative alternative to DACA.

Sinema has marketed herself as a fiscally conservative Democrat and is currently a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a congressional coalition of conservative Democrats. 

“As someone who has a voting record of voting both Republican and Democrat and as the (chief deputy) Democratic whip, she can definitely appeal to Independents and moderate Republicans,” Huff said. 

Sinema’s moderate stance on key issues and her fiscally conservative voting record makes her an attractive candidate to challenge the Republicans in 2018. 

Sinema cosponsored the AUDIT Act, which would compel federal agencies to defend their spending in hearings before Congress. She also cosponsored the No Budget, No Pay Act, which would would block congressional salaries if a budget isn't passed for fiscal year 2018. 

She sponsored the Regulator Improvement Act as well, which would repeal federal regulations for small businesses.

But Sinema fought for students struggling with student loans, cosponsoring legislation that allowed students to use federal Pell Grants during summer school and permitted the use of college savings accounts to make necessary school purchases like computers. She also supported reauthorization of Perkins Loans, which are low-interest federal student loans.

Kanin Pruter, a political science senior, said Sinema’s personal story about struggling with student loan debt is something he can relate to.

“She’s not just voting on behalf of one political party ... she looks at these issues and she looks at these bills as how they are going to affect Arizonans as a whole," Pruter said. "That’s why I know that she will be a great senator, because that’s the kind of perspective and leadership we need in Washington, especially in the Senate."

David Howman, a justice studies and political science senior, sides with Flake more than Ward, calling her a power-hungry career politician who isn’t right for Arizona. While Howman said he prefers Flake, if given the choice between Ward and Sinema in the 2018 election, he will cross party lines and vote for Sinema.

“Arizona is embracing a lot of change right now," Howman said. "We have been red for a long time, but people have started to become a little less happy and content with the Republican Party and the job that they are doing, and they are starting to look for other options.”


Reach the reporter at Brooke.Hanrahan@asu.edu or follow @brookehanrahan1 on Twitter. 

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