Hmm: Obamacare-Tied Democrat On the Run in Arizona?

Posted: Feb 28, 2014 4:15 PM
Hmm: Obamacare-Tied Democrat On the Run in Arizona?

File this as your rumor of the day -- it's an intriguing one. We first wrote about Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema when she was a Congressional candidate in 2012, noting that she was angling to shake off her radical past and present herself as a moderate to voters. She succeeded, barely, winning her race by a narrow margin. The freshman has since built up a formidable campaign war chest to buttress her re-election campaign in a tough swing district -- but fresh whispers suggest that her former self isn't the only thing she's considering leaving behind. Local media is starting to buzz about the possibility of Sinema bolting from her current district to a safe D+16 seat that just opened up. She represented part of AZ-07 as a state legislator, then moved to AZ-09 to run for Congress. Now that a much safer seat in her old stomping grounds may be hers for the taking, Sinema has thus far declined to commit to stick it out in her current district. The local CBS affiliate drops some clues:

After spending the past 23 years in Washington, Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor announced his retirement after his term, which ends in January. Political analyst Jamie Molera said Pastor's retirement set off a frenzy among Democrats jockeying to fill his shoes in Congress. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is also rumored to be in the running, moving from her Congressional District 9 into Pastor's District 7. Members of her camp said Thursday that Sinema is focused on representing her current district in Congress but did not comment further.

That is absolutely not a denial. WaPo's Aaron Blake noticed the same thing:

She'd have to play in a contested primary, but she'd have very high name recognition and a pile of cash with which to bury her competitors. Sinema is nothing if not ambitious, and it's easier to chase after higher pursuits (statewide office, for instance) from the comfort of a secure seat that one doesn't need to ardently defend every single cycle. These potential machinations are relevant on both a local and national level. In Arizona, if Sinema folds up shop and moves back to AZ-07, she would dramatically alter the state of play in that race, and she'd vacate a seat that Democrats would have to scramble to defend in AZ-09. As an incumbent, she's already facing a heavy lift in that regard. Forcing her party to start from scratch in a GOP-leaning year could flip the seat. Nationally, setting aside her personal agenda, it's telling that this vulnerable incumbent may be eyeing a less volatile seat. Before she entered Congress, Sinema was appointed by President Obama to serve on a special task force to help promote Obamacare. She's therefore uniquely tied to the unpopular law, a political reality that she'll need to overcome in order to secure re-election. If she hop-scotches over to a new district, she'd be in much friendlier ideological territory. That could work well for her, but it would also send a message that embattled Democrats defending marginal seats are feeling the crush of their party's signature "accomplishment."