Sinema’s retirement triggers wide range of reactions in Arizona

(The Center Square) – Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced on Tuesday that she is retiring at the end of the year and not seeking re-election, which led to a wide range of reactions from the political world.

Sinema is considered one of the most politically moderate members of the Senate, and she made waves by leaving the Democratic Party in December 2022. The senator was once considered one of the most liberal politicians in Arizona. 

Her counterpart, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, thanked her for their partnership.

“Over our three years of serving together, I’ve had a front row seat to Senator Sinema’s work in the Senate and witnessed her tenacity as she forged compromises on issues that felt unsolvable,” he said in a statement. “In a town where a lot of people are much happier talking about problems than doing anything to fix them, she’s pursued meaningful solutions, working with Republicans and Democrats to pass lasting legislation that makes a difference in the lives of Arizonans and all Americans.”

Meanwhile, others cheered her departure, like the Replace Sinema PAC, which focused on getting her out of office by electing a more progressive candidate. 

“We succeeded in first pushing her out of the party – by making clear she couldn’t win a Democratic primary – and now we’ve also helped push her out of the Senate. Good. Arizonans deserve better,” the committee said in a statement backing Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego to be her successor.

Gallego and Kari Lake, who’s likely to be the Republican’s Senate nominee, both took cordial tones in reaction to the news. Prior to the announcement, both candidates took critical tones of Sinema because it was unclear if she would enter the race. 

“I want to thank [Sinema] for her nearly two decades of service to our state,” Gallego said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter, and then pivoted to issues he’s focusing on and his opposition to Lake. 

Lake focused on how she covered Sinema while she was anchor at Fox 10 Phoenix and wished her “the best.”

“As a Journalist, I covered Kyrsten Sinema for many years. We may not agree on everything, but I know she shares my love for Arizona,” she stated.

“Senator Sinema had the courage to stand tall against the Far-Left in defense of the filibuster—despite the overwhelming pressure from the radicals in her party like Ruben Gallego who called on her to burn it all down,” Lake continued. 

The Arizona Democratic Party put out a release in response to Sinema’s announcement, but the statement did not mention her by name and instead focused on Lake and the party’s backing of Gallego. 

“The most disastrous thing for hardworking Arizonans would be a Senator Kari Lake,” Chairwoman Yolanda Bejarano said in her statement.

“The Arizona Democratic Party will proudly support the Democratic nominee for Senate and help Arizonans reject Kari Lake’s extremism again in November,” she added.

It was long expected that Sinema would not run for re-election, but speculation mounted in recent weeks. As an unaffiliated candidate, she would have needed to submit 42,303 verified signatures or more on a nominating petition by April 1 to qualify for the ballot, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.