Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will decide who replaces her in the U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema talks to those gathered inside the conference room at Regional Center for Border Health in Somerton on Jan. 10, 2023, about issues at the U.S.-Mexico border in the Yuma region.

During a radio interview last week Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was asked what she thought about Rep. Ruben Gallego’s decision to challenge her in 2024.

Public opinion polls haven’t been kind to Sinema for some time. One of the latest showed her receiving only 13% of the vote in a race involving her, Gallego and failed Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake.

According to Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking in all 50 states, Sinema ranks among America’s most unpopular senators. Perhaps even the most unpopular.

But that doesn’t mean the senator is without power, or the moxy to use it.

‘A never-ending focus on campaign politics’

Arizona voters may not want Sinema to remain in office after her term expires, but the senator will have the last say on who replaces her.

She said on the radio that her political future isn’t her primary focus right now. That is, of course, what every elected official says, most often while meaning just the opposite. In Sinema’s case, however, I believe her.

Letter:Ruben Gallego has the resume to win Sinema’s seat

Make no mistake. Sinema is definitely fixated on her future, it just might not be a future involving politics. Or at least political office.

“I’m not really thinking about or talking about the election,” Sinema said on the radio. “A never-ending focus on campaign politics is why so many people hate politics.”

That last part is true.

Sinema wants consensus on immigration reform

We seem to have devolved into an electoral process in which campaign promises about governing are superseded immediately after an election by the next round of campaigning.

Sinema said she plans to spend her time trying to build a consensus on immigration reform and border security.Earlier this month the newly minted independent Sinema and Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn led the eight-member delegation to Yuma and El Paso, Texas, with the idea of finding some common ground.

Late last year, Sinema and Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina tried to get passed a bipartisan proposal that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers,” increased funding for border security and included plans for swifter removal of immigrants who don’t qualify for asylum.

Spending time doing something unheard of: governing

It failed.

But at least she gave it a try. And it looks as if she’s going to try again.

Sinema knows that in the next election cycle her decision to run, or not to run, will most likely determine who will be the next person elected as an Arizona senator. She also knows it’s unlikely to be her.

In the meantime, however, her attempt to beat the million-to-one odds of crafting a bipartisan border security deal make her one of the few politicians in the federal government actually trying to do what she was elected to do:

Govern.

Reach Montini at [email protected]

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Kyrsten Sinema will decide who replaces her in the Senate