Kyrsten Sinema, Photo: U.S. House Office of Photography
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has been declared the winner in the race for one of Arizona’s Senate seats.
Sinema, a Democrat who previously made history as the first openly bisexual person elected to Congress, has successfully flipped retiring Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat, besting Republican Rep. Martha McSally.
With her win, Sinema once again makes history, not only becoming the first openly bisexual U.S. Senator, but also becoming Arizona’s first-ever female Senator in the state’s 106-year history.
The Associated Press finally called the race in Sinema’s favor Monday evening, after the state’s slow counting process initially showed McSally ahead, before successive vote tallies gave Sinema the lead.
As of Monday, Sinema has 1,097,226 votes (49.74%) to McSally’s 1,051,033 (47.9%).
The Arizona Republic estimates that there are about 170,000 votes still to be counted, but they are predominantly from Maricopa and Pima countries, where Sinema has outperformed McSally.
Sinema’s campaign manager, Andrew Platt, had called her lead “insurmountable” prior to the official declaration, and said it was “not plausible” for McSally to win.
In posts on social media, Sinema thanked voters for electing her.
“As long as I’ve served Arizona, I’ve worked to help others see our common humanity & find common ground,” Sinema said. “That’s the same approach I’ll take to representing our great state in the Senate, where I’ll be an independent voice for all Arizonans. Thank you, Arizona. Let’s get to work.”
In a speech after her victory was announced, Sinema said she was “so honored that Arizonans chose our vision of a better Arizona.”
She called McSally’s campaign, which embraced Trump and his ideals, the way of “fear and party politics,” and said voters had instead chosen a campaign that was about everyday issues for people in the state.
“Arizona rejected what has become far too common in our country: name-calling, petty personal attacks, and doing and saying whatever it takes to get elected,” she said. “It’s dangerous. And it lessens who we are as a country.”
Sinema said that Arizona had proved that there “is a better way forward.”
“We can work with people who are different than us,” she continued. “We can be friends with people who are different than us. We can love and care about people who are different than us. We can keep people who are different than us safe. We can be good people who care deeply about each other, even when we disagree, and we can start by listening to someone with a different opinion. Listening not to rebut or debate, but listening to understand…. We can embrace difference, while seeking common ground.”
Sinema also paid tribute to the late Sen. John McCain, who she called a “legend who exemplified all the best of Arizona.”
“Sen. McCain is irreplaceable, but his example will guide our next steps. He taught us to assume the best in others, to seek compromise instead of sewing division, & to always put country ahead of party,” she said. “As your Senator, that’s exactly what I’ll do. Not by calling names or playing political games, but by showing up and doing the work to keep Arizona moving forward.
“It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but we can work together to meet the challenges our country faces. We can do this differently. For our country, for our future, for Sen. McCain, and for each other I think we must.”
McSally congratulated Sinema on her win on Twitter, writing, “I wish her success. I’m grateful to all those who supported me in this journey. I’m inspired by Arizonans’ spirit and our state’s best days are ahead of us.”
Sen. Flake, whose seat Sinema won, also congratulated her on her win, telling her, “You’ll be great” on Twitter.
HRC President Chad Griffin cheered Sinema’s win on Twitter, writing that she would “make one hell of a Senator.”
“With Kyrsten’s historic win, it’s becoming more and more clear that 2018 was the year of the Rainbow Wave,” Griffin wrote. “HRC was proud to fight for @kyrstensinema & we can’t wait to work with her in the Senate. In the final 4 days of the campaign alone we knocked on 12,000+ doors to mobilize the 200,000 LGBTQ voters & 800,000 Equality Voters across AZ. When we vote, #equality wins!”