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Kyrsten Sinema’s Exit Sets Up Likely Race Between Ruben Gallego and Kari Lake

The announcement that she will not run for reelection this year was welcomed by progressives in Arizona and beyond.

Rep. Ruben Gallego walks down the House steps after the final votes of the week in the U.S. Capitol on September 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — infamous for voting down a federal $15 minimum wage, high-fiving Sen. Joe Manchin to kill filibuster reform, and overall kowtowing to corporate interests while hiding behind euphemistic claims of “moderation” announced Tuesday she will not run for reelection this year, news welcomed by progressives both in her home state of Arizona and beyond.

Sinema’s departure from the 2024 campaign means the Arizona Senate race will most likely be between Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and Republican former television new anchor and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

Sinema claimed in a video announcing her decision not to run that moderate politicians are “not what America wants right now.”

“Because I choose civility, understanding, listening, working together to get stuff done, I will leave the Senate at the end of this year,” she said.

Rep. Gallego put out a statement thanking Sinema for her “nearly two decades of service,” and he invited her to campaign against Kari Lake.

Other progressives took the opportunity to let their disgust be known.

“Sinema will go down in history as a feckless, corrupt egomaniac who sabotaged abortion and voting rights and destroyed her own political career in the process,” said Leah Greenberg, co-founder of the advocacy group Indivisible.

“Enjoy your lobbying gig and leave the rest of us alone forever,” Greenberg added.

Sinema will have served one term as a senator. She previously served in the House of Representatives for six years and the Arizona Senate for one year. Though Sinema started her career as a member of the Green Party, she later became a Democrat and then switched to being an independent in late 2022 — a move that deeply wounded the Biden administration’s domestic agenda by slicing the Democratic majority in the Senate to the bone.

Sinema was an obstacle to achieving progressive policy goals in Congress, blocking many key priorities, including eliminating the legislative filibuster, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). She infamously did a thumbs down in the Senate gallery to vote against raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2021.

The group hoping to oust Sinema, the Replace Sinema campaign, put out a statement in response to the news of her not seeking reelection.

“Sinema obstructed President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, got in the way of fundamental rights like abortion care and voting, and did the bidding of her wealthy donors who fund her luxury lifestyle,” the group wrote. “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.”

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