Democratic U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema announced today that she is running for the U.S. Senate, setting up a showdown with U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake in what is likely to be Arizona’s biggest political race in 2018.
In a video announcing her run, Sinema talked about her personal story as a homeless child who worked her way through school and eventually to to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I got my shot, and now it’s my duty to help others get their shot,” Sinema said in the video.
Flake already faces a Republican challenger, former legislator Kelli Ward, and has come under fire from the Trump administration, which has criticized Flake as weak on crime and border issues.
Sinema will face Phoenix attorney Deedra Abboud in the Democratic primary, a race she is expected to win.
Flake’s campaign wasted little time trying to paint Sinema as too liberal for Arizona.
“From her time working on Ralph Nader’s campaign to the state legislature to Congress, Kyrsten Sinema has always been out-of-touch with Arizona and she’ll do anything to hide her progressive record,” said Flake spokesman Will Allison.
Recent polls show Flake as vulnerable to a challenge from both the right and the left.
Prior to her election to the Arizona Legislature as a Democrat in 2004, Sinema ran as an independent, a campaign in which the Arizona Democratic Party dubbed the former Ralph Nader supporter as “too extreme for central Phoenix.”
But on Capitol Hill, she is known as a more moderate member of the Democratic Party.
Democrats face a voter registration deficit compared to Republicans in Arizona, making any bid for a statewide office or the U.S. Senate challenging. In the campaign announcement, Sinema strikes a moderate tone.
“It’s time to put our country ahead of party, ahead of politics. It’s time to stop fighting and look for common ground. It’s time for us to stand up and answer the call. We can change a broken Washington and make it work again,” Sinema said.