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The Victory Fund has endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in her bid to become Arizona’s next U.S. senator. If victorious, Sinema, who identifies as bisexual, would double the amount of LGBTQ representation in the upper chamber.
Given Arizona’s Republican tilt, Sinema will be an underdog in the race. But polls showed her competitive with U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake prior to his announcement that he would not seek re-election, and continue to show her in a tight race with Kelli Ward, who had previously announced her intention to challenge Flake, who lost favor among Arizona Republicans for speaking out against President Donald Trump. Former Trump adviser and head of Breitbart Steve Bannon has already thrown his support behind her.
Ward is an Arizona state senator best known for encouraging her constituents’ conspiracy theories around “chemtrails” — which are thought to be used by the government as a form of population control or mind control, depending on who’s telling the story. She has also amassed an extensive anti-LGBTQ voting record during her time in office, saying one of her “biggest disappointments” as a legislator was when then-Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to claim “religious exemptions” when refusing service to LGBTQ people.
The race could also prove crucial to control of the U.S. Senate, as one of the few Republican-held Senate seats that could change hands on Election Day in 2018.
While Ward is considered the frontrunner, she is also hated by establishment Republicans in Washington, who believe her too extreme to win, even in conservative Arizona. Ward previously challenged Sen. John McCain in a primary in 2016, only to lose to him by double-digits. Other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, are expected to announce. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed that Ward will not be the party’s nominee, something the Bannon acolytes would like to disprove.
“As Steve Bannon and his hate-mongering political minions converge on the Arizona Senate race, we have Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who is a tireless fighter for equality and is proposing a positive agenda for the people of Arizona,” Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, the president and CEO of Victory Fund, said in a statement. She noted that Sinema’s endorsement is only the second the organization has made for the 2018 election cycle, following their endorsement of out lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s re-election bid.
“A win for Congresswoman Sinema would double LGBTQ representation in the U.S. Senate,” Moodie-Mills said, “a milestone for our community and a chance to secure a pro-equality majority that could push forward inclusive legislation.”