For the first time in 18 years, the Arizona Republic endorsed a Democratic candidate for election to the U.S. Senate. In an op-ed published on Monday, the Grand Canyon State’s largest newspaper endorsed U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema over her Republican challenger, Martha McSally. The decision marks a stark departure for the historically-conservative publication.
Sinema and McSally, both current members of the House of Representatives, are locked in a right race to fill the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who has decided not to run for re-election. In a op-ed, The Republic makes supporting arguments for both candidates, but ultimately sides with Sinema.
Fear not conservatives, the paper concludes that Sinema is not exactly the radical leftist she has been portrayed as by McSally in debates and campaigns. In fact, she is quite the centrist — or Rockefeller Republican — hence why The Republic endorsed her over her competitor.
The Republic writes that both McSally and Sinema are “accomplished women with moxie and class” with few “stark, black-and-white differences” between the two. In fact, if you compare their voting records, you will find that the two legislators agreed on 522 votes out of 1,043 votes in the 115th Congress. Still, the newspaper finds Sinema to be less of the “tutu-wearing leftist” many Arizonans fear and rather more bipartisan in an age of “hyper-partisanship.”
“More than 60 percent of the bills she co-sponsored this session were introduced by Republicans,” the newspaper writes. “Sinema sides with Trump’s agenda 62 percent of the time . . . less so on social issues than on the economy and defense.”
In the midst of midterm elections, Sinema was one of just three Democrats to vote in favor of a Republican-led tax cut bill three weeks ago. What about McSally? The Republic finds her confused in her beliefs and indecisive on plans of action, specifically citing her approach to repealing Obamacare last August.
“She voted for repeal,” the newspaper writes, “but when that effort failed, she joined a bipartisan group that offered solutions to shore up the program — and noted in an op-ed that you fight the battle you’re in, not the one you wish you had.”
The Republic believes McSally is only willing to talk bipartisanship and not actively practice it like Sinema. They conclude that Sinema is the candidate who can solve problems — not wage them — and “lead with an arm extended to the other side and a promise to work together.”
In 2016, the paper endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for U.S. president — the first time in its century-spanning history where a Democrat was backed for the executive branch. They cited Trump’s lack of qualifications and flawed characteristics as the reasoning for their decision. With Sinema, The Republic once again moves in a left direction, but more in the name of bipartisanship and to accomplish change in, what they call, a malicious and toxic Washington.
McSally currently leads Sinema by less than one full point in the latest Real Clear Politics poll average of Arizona – a statistical tie.