AP: ASU lecturer Kyrsten Sinema wins Senate seat

Sinema becomes Arizona's first female senator

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema will be Arizona's next senator, the first woman to hold that position, following a hard-fought race against Republican Rep. Martha McSally for the seat vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who announced that we would not run for re-election last year, according to the Associated Press. 

Sinema's victory is historic for the state for several reasons: Arizona has not seen a Democratic member of the Senate for 30 years, it has never before had a female senator and for the first time in decades, the majority of the state's elected officials in Washington will be Democrats. She will also be the first openly bisexual member of the U.S. Senate. 

Her lead steadily grew as remaining votes were counted in the days following the election. 

McSally said in a Twitter video Monday evening that she conceded the race to Sinema. 

"I wish her all success as she represents Arizona in the Senate," McSally said in the video sitting next to her Golden Retriever, Boomer. "I also want to say thank you to everybody who supported me in this campaign." 

The Senate race was marked by a combative campaign and strong words between the candidates. 

During a debate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, McSally accused Sinema of treason for a comment she made on a radio show years earlier. 

Read more: Three takeaways from Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema's U.S. Senate debate

Sinema, an ASU graduate with a Ph.D, masters and law degree, has taught in the School of Social Work at ASU since 2003.

She gave a victory speech Monday night in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she criticized divisive rhetoric from the Republicans. 

"Arizona rejected what has become far too common in our country; name calling, petty personal attacks and doing and saying whatever it takes to get elected," Sinema said. "It’s dangerous and it lessens who we are as a country." 

Sinema's voice cracked in emotion as she spoke about late Sen. John McCain. 

"McCain stood for everything we stand for as Arizonans; fighting for what you believe in, standing up for what’s right, even if you stand alone, and serving a cause which is greater than ones self," she said. "His example shines a light on our way forward."

Jesse Avalos, a political science senior and president of The Young Democrats at ASU, said Sinema’s victory represents a demographic change in Arizona. 

“I think we all saw it coming, I mean I saw it coming in that people were discounting a lot in how far the blue wave could happen...if anything (it) shows that we're a purple state,” he said. 

Avalos said this election marks a change in how Arizona contributes to politics in the future. 

“I think what this means now is that we are going to have a lot more competitive races now in 2020, 2022 and moving forward,” he said. “There's going to be a lot more eyes now on Arizona.”

Political science sophomore and chairman of the Arizona Federation of College Republicans, Judah Waxelbaum, said he was disappointed about Monday's declaration. 

"It's not how any of us on the right wanted these results to go out. We were all rooting for Martha McSally to pull this one through," Waxelbaum said. 

He said the win doesn't reflect the political landscape in Arizona. 

"A lot of people have been reaching out to me over the last few hours wanting to know if Arizona has become officially purple or blue. To that, I just want to say, one cycle does not define a state," he said. 

In a text message, Rick Thomas, elementary education senior and the president of College Republicans United, echoed accusations of election fraud that have been made without evidence. 

Thomas cited inconsistencies between counties that verified ballot signatures, but a lawsuit last week settled the matter and declared all counties able to verify signatures after election day, according to reporting from The Arizona Republic

Editor's note: This story was last updated at 9:18 p.m Nov. 12. It will be updated as more information becomes available.

Isaac Windes contributed to the reporting in this article. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Kyrsten Sinema's name. The correction has been made.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the year Sinema started teaching at the School of Social Work. The article has been updated with the change. 

 Reach the reporter at mlshuman@asu.edu or follow @mackenzieshuman on Twitter.

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