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Senator Kyrsten Sinema retires leaving the Senate seat up for grabs

Posted: March 7, 2024 at 6:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has announced that she won’t seek re-election in November, signaling a significant change in the battle for control of the Senate and leaving a void that will be challenging to fill.

Sinema, known for her independent streak and bipartisan approach, declared her decision to step away from the Senate, citing a commitment to civility and a desire to work collaboratively, sentiments that resonate with her unconventional political style. Her departure, however, has left Democrats grappling with the loss of a pivotal figure in a closely divided Senate.

In a statement, Sinema emphasized her belief in compromise but lamented the current state of political discourse, characterized by polarization and ideological rigidity. Her decision not to seek re-election underscores the challenges of navigating a deeply divided political landscape, where bipartisan cooperation often takes a backseat to partisan agendas.

“The only political victories that matter these days are symbolic, attacking your opponents on cable news or social media,” Sinema said in a video announcing her departure.

“Compromise is a dirty word.”

The race to fill Sinema’s seat is poised to be fiercely contested, with Arizona emerging as a battleground state crucial to determining the Senate majority. Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego and former Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake are among the frontrunners in what promises to be a closely watched race with far-reaching implications.

Arizona’s Race is One to Watch

Gallego’s endorsement by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer underscores the significance of the Arizona Senate race in the broader context of national politics. With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, both parties are gearing up for a high-stakes showdown that could shape the legislative agenda for years to come.

“We are fully behind his candidacy and look forward to winning this race with him in 2024 and defeating Kari Lake,” Schumer said of Gallego.

Sinema’s departure has also drawn attention to the shifting dynamics within the Senate, where her absence will be keenly felt. As a key player in major negotiations and a vocal advocate for bipartisanship, Sinema’s influence extended far beyond party lines, earning her both praise and criticism from across the political spectrum.

Her role in brokering compromises on critical issues, including a bipartisan border security deal, highlighted her commitment to finding common ground in a deeply polarized environment. Sinema’s departure leaves a void in the Senate’s centrist wing, raising questions about the future of bipartisan cooperation in an increasingly divided Congress.

She is best known for her opposition to changing rules around the Senate filibuster. Democrats had sought changes to the chamber’s rules to avoid the filibuster and use their majority to boost access to abortion and change election rules. In December 2022, she announced that she would serve as an independent.

Reaction From Both Sides

Republicans, buoyed by Sinema’s decision not to seek re-election, see an opportunity to capitalize on her absence and bolster their prospects in Arizona. With the race wide open, Republican candidate Kari Lake is poised to mount a formidable challenge, buoyed by Sinema’s departure and the shifting political landscape in the state.

Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who chairs the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, told CNN that Sinema’s retirement will help Lake’s candidacy.

“I wasn’t surprised by that announcement. And the polling shows that it actually gives somewhat of an advantage to Kari Lake, in all the polling we’ve done,” Daines said. “So it gives us another great opportunity, another open seat on the Senate map.”

GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said in a statement, “The Senate will greatly miss Senator Sinema’s strong bipartisan leadership.”

“Elected officials like Senator Sinema are becoming a dying breed: true leaders who are focused on doing what’s best for our country and getting results for the people they serve instead of feeding the rabid partisans of their base with empty platitudes, false promises, and excuses for getting nothing done,” Tillis said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that they have worked closely with Sinema on key bills.

“She was one of the leading negotiators on the border security bill that came out of the Senate in a bipartisan way. We appreciate it, her efforts on that,” Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre continued, “She’s been a partner with us on many critical issues that matter to the American people.”

Sinema’s decision to leave the Senate marks the end of an era characterized by her unconventional style and willingness to defy party norms. As Arizona prepares for a closely contested Senate race, the political landscape remains uncertain, with Sinema’s departure underscoring the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for both parties in the battle for control of the Senate.

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