ASU lecturer and alumna Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) will attempt to challenge Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) in the 2018 U.S. Senate Race, according to an announcement she made in September.
Sinema has three degrees from ASU: a masters in social work she earned in 1999, a JD in 2004 and a doctorate in Justice Studies in 2012. She has been a guest lecturer and adjunct professor at ASU and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.
Zakary Ghali, president of ASU Young Democrats, said that the club wouldn't be endorsing any candidates, but said it was important that a Democrat won the 2018 election.
"We need someone in the White House that is going to take a stance on Arizona values," Ghali said. "Take a stand on things like gun control, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, healthcare."
David Wells, an ASU political science professor and personal friend of Sinema said she is the best candidate the Democrats have had in almost 20 years.
“She’s probably the most confident, strongest Democrat to run for the U.S. Senate since I moved to Arizona in 1998,” Wells said.
Sinema joins a list of politicians lining up to challenge first term Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, including former Republican State Sen. Kelli Ward, who made an unsuccessful bid for Arizona Sen. John McCain's seat in 2016. Sinema currently represents Arizona's 9th district, which includes the ASU Tempe Campus, in the House.
Flake has publicly disagreed with President Donald Trump on many issues and is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican senators in the 2018 election. A Morning Consult poll recently rated Flake the third most disliked senator, behind McCain and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During Trump’s most recent visit to Arizona, he tweeted that Flake is “weak on boarders, weak on crime.”
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Wells said that Sinema’s willingness to work across the aisle makes her a great candidate, while admitting that Flake shared a similar willingness. Sinema is in the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of conservative Democrats.
“You need to have people who will work on a bipartisan basis, and I think Jeff Flake’s also willing to do that," Wells said. "I think there’s a wider range of issues at which Kysten Sinema would be willing to (work).”
Sinema is the first member of Congress to declare her religious affiliation as “none.” Although, 10 other representatives have declined to provide their religious affiliation.
Judah Waxelbaum, a political science freshman, described Sinema as a very progressive Democrat that does a really good job marketing her self as a moderate.
“I think Kyrsten Sinema is as far as to the left as it gets. She is the definition of a modern progressive Democrat. It doesn’t get any further to the left.”
Waxelbaum said that the Senate race in Arizona is going to be the most interesting senate race in the 2018 election cycle.
Arizona's primary election will be held on Aug. 28, 2018, with the general election following on Nov. 6.
Reach the reporter at Brooke.Hanrahan@asu.edu or follow @brookehanrahan1 on Twitter.
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