Politics

Sinema ‘Seriously Considering’ Challenging Flake in Senate

Arizona congresswoman under pressure to make a decision

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., is considering running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is “seriously considering” challenging GOP Sen. Jeff Flake in the Arizona Senate race, she said after a local news outlet reported that she is planning to run.

Flake is considered one of the two more vulnerable GOP incumbents in 2018, and Sinema is also facing pressure to make a decision, with the prospect of a Democratic primary for the race. 

“I’ve heard from many Arizonans encouraging me to run for the United States Senate. It is something I am seriously considering,” Sinema said in a statement. “When I make any decisions, Arizonans will be the first to know.”

KPNX, the NBC affiliate out of Phoenix, reported Friday that Sinema is planning to run, and term-limited Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton would run for her House seat. 

Stanton is also weighing a Senate run if Sinema decides not to get in the race, and he met with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee the last week of July. 

Potential Democratic contender Dr. Randy Friese has also met with the DSCC. The state legislator is a surgeon who treated former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot at a constituent meeting in Tucson in 2011. Friese is gearing up for a Senate run, but it is not clear if he would stay in the race if Sinema entered. 

If she runs statewide, Sinema, who was first elected to the House in 2012, could face some criticism from left-leaning groups for some of her moderate stances. She is aligned with the Blue Dogs, a group of more conservative Democrats, and chairs the group’s PAC.

While Sinema has long been considered a potential Senate contender, a source with knowledge of the race said she has been indicating over the past few weeks that she is leaning towards running. 

Flake has also been making the rounds in recent weeks touting a new book on conservatism that takes aim at President Donald Trump. Flake has been a frequent Trump critic and is facing a primary challenge from Kelli Ward, who unsuccessfully challenged GOP Sen. John McCain last cycle. 

With Senate Democrats largely on defense in 2018, they view Arizona as a potential pickup opportunity. Trump won the state by 4 points in 2016, but a Democrat has not represented Arizona in the Senate since 1994. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Arizona race as Lean Republican. 

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