Kyrsten Sinema

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Kyrsten Sinema
Rep Kyrsten Sinema, Official Portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 9th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by New District
Member of the Arizona Senate
from the 15th district
In office
January 10, 2011 – January 3, 2012
Preceded by Ken Cheuvront
Succeeded by David Lujan
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 15th district
In office
January 10, 2005 – January 10, 2011
Serving with David Lujan
Preceded by Wally Straughn, Ken Clark
Succeeded by Lela Alston, Katie Hobbs
Personal details
Born (1976-07-12) July 12, 1976 (age 38)
Tucson, Arizona
Political party Democratic
Residence Phoenix, Arizona
Alma mater Brigham Young University (B.A.)
Arizona State University (M.A., Ph.D.)
Arizona State University (J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion None
Website Congressional website

Kyrsten Sinema, Ph.D. (born July 12, 1976) is an American politician and the U.S. Representative from Arizona's 9th congressional district, first elected in 2012. A member of the Democratic Party, prior to being elected she served in both chambers of the Arizona legislature, being elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2005, and the Arizona Senate in 2011.

Known as a progressive, she has worked for the adoption of the DREAM Act, and has campaigned against Propositions 107 and 102, two voter referendums to ban the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona.

She is the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Congress.[1][2] Although some sources have reported her to be an atheist, she does not identify as one, preferring instead to eschew religious labels altogether.[3][4]

Early life, education, early career[edit]

Sinema was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1976. Her parents divorced when she was a child and her mother remarried. When her stepfather lost his job, the family lived for two years in an abandoned gas station with no running water or electricity.[5] She was raised in a conservative Mormon family.[6]

She graduated as high school valedictorian at age 16 and went on to earn her B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1995 at age 18.[5] Sinema received her Master of Social Work from Arizona State University in 1999. In 2004, she earned a J.D. from Arizona State University College of Law. In 2012, she earned a Ph.D. in Justice Studies, also from Arizona State.[5][7]

Sinema was a social worker from 1995 to 2002. She also practiced law in the Washington Elementary School District[8] She served as an adjunct Business Law Professor at Arizona Summit Law School, formerly known as Phoenix School of Law. Sinema became a criminal defense lawyer in 2005.[5][8] Sinema has also been an adjunct instructor in the Arizona State University School of Social Work since 2003.[9]

Arizona legislature[edit]

Sinema walking up stairs and smiling to the camera
Sinema in 2009
Sinema in 2010

Elections[edit]

Sinema first ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2002, as an independent affiliated with the Arizona Green Party.[10] She finished in last place in a five candidate field, receiving 8% of the vote.[11]

In 2004, Sinema won the Democratic primary for Arizona's 15th District, where she won the highest margin of votes with 37%. David Lujan also won election with 34% (there are two seats in each District).[12] Sinema was subsequently re-elected three times with over 30% of the vote.[13][14][15] In 2009 and 2010, Sinema was an assistant Minority Leader for the Democratic Caucus of the Arizona House of Representatives.[16]

In 2010, Sinema was elected to the Arizona Senate, defeating Republican Bob Thomas 63–37%.[17]

Tenure[edit]

In 2005 and 2006, she was named the Sierra Club's Most Valuable Player. She also won the 2006 Planned Parenthood CHOICE Award, 2006 Legislator of the Year Award from both the Arizona Public Health Association and the National Association of Social Workers, 2006 Legislative Hero Award from the Arizona League of Conservation Voters, and the 2005 Stonewall Democrats' Legislator of the Year Award. In 2010, she was named one of Time Magazine's "40 Under 40".[18] In 2005, Sinema was contacted by a group of East Valley women who were working to protect breastfeeding mothers from falling victim to Arizona's indecent-exposure statutes.[19]

In 2006, Sinema sponsored a bill urging the adoption of the DREAM Act.[20] Also in 2006 she co-chaired Arizona Together, the statewide campaign that defeated Proposition 107 (which would have banned the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona).[21] Speaking to a now-defunct fashion/lifestyle magazine in 2006, Sinema was asked about "new feminism", and responded, "These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks (think that) is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life." After dealing with criticism, Sinema said the remarks were intended to be a "light-hearted spoof" but did apologize.[22]

In 2008, Sinema led the campaign against Proposition 102, another referendum which would have banned the recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions in Arizona. Proposition 102 was approved with 56% of the vote in the general election on November 4, 2008. Sinema chaired a coalition called Protect Arizona's Freedom, which defeated Ward Connerly's goal to place an initiative on the state ballot that would eliminate equal opportunity programs.[23]

In 2010, she sponsored a bill to give in-state tuition to veterans.[24] The Center for Inquiry presented Sinema its Award for the Advancement of Science and Reason in Public Policy in 2011.[25]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

2012[edit]

In June 2011, Sinema said she was considering running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. She lived in the same neighborhood as fellow Democrat Ed Pastor, but was adamant that she would not challenge another Democrat in a primary.[26] On January 3, 2012, Sinema announced her bid for Congress, in the 9th congressional district.[27] The district had previously been the 5th, represented by freshman Republican David Schweikert; it contains 60 percent of the old 5th's territory.[28]

Schweikert had been drawn into the 6th District—the old 3rd District—and sought reelection there. Although not required to do so under Arizona's resign-to-run laws (since she was in the final year of her term), she resigned from the state senate on the same day. On August 28, 2012, Sinema won the Democratic primary with 42% of the vote, defeating former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny, a former speechwriter in the Clinton administration, and state Senator David Schapira.[5][29][30]

In the general election Sinema ran against Republican nominee Vernon Parker, the former Mayor of Paradise Valley.[5] Sinema was endorsed by the Arizona Republic.[5] The campaign was described as a "nasty",[31] "bitterly fought race that featured millions of dollars in attack ads".[32] Parker ran campaign ads that accused Sinema of being an "anti-American hippie" who practiced "Pagan rituals".[33] The Republican-aligned outside group American Future Fund spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on attack ads against Sinema.[34] When Sinema's religious views were raised as an issue, her campaign stated that she simply believes in a secular approach to government.[3]

The November 6 election was initially too close to call, because Arizona election authorities failed to count more than 25% of the votes on election day.[35] Sinema held a narrow lead over Parker, while provisional and absentee ballots were still being counted.[36][37] However, on November 12, when it was apparent that Sinema's lead was too large for Parker to overcome, the Associated Press called the race for Sinema.[38] Once all ballots were counted, Sinema won by 4.1 percentage points, or 10,000 votes.[39]

2014[edit]

Sinema is running for re-election 2014. The Democratic primary will take place on August 26, 2014, while the general election is slated for November 4, 2014.[40]

Views[edit]

According to National Journal's 2013 Vote Ratings, Sinema's votes place her near the center of their liberal-conservative scale.[41] In early 2014, Sinema joined the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats who work with moderate Republicans to craft bipartisan policy.[42] On February 16, 2013, she announced she was part of an emerging effort, called the United Solutions Caucus, to end partisan gridlock in Congress.[43] This group of 32 freshman Republicans and Democrats was formed with the stated principles of strengthening and preserving Social Security and Medicare, promoting economic growth to generate revenue, cutting spending, and pursuing Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse.[44]

Privacy[edit]

On June 16, 2013, Sinema became an original cosponsor of the bipartisan LIBERT-E Act, along with Rep. Justin Amash, which limits the National Security Agency to only collecting electronic information from subjects of an investigation.[45]

On July 24, 2013, Sinema joined a bipartisan majority and voted against an amendment to a defense appropriations bill to prohibit the National Security Agency from monitoring and recording details of US citizens' telecommunications without a warrant.[46] She later explained her vote against the amendment by saying, “I, along with my colleagues in the House, was given assurances by the intelligence community that abuses did not occur intentionally or regularly, were quickly resolved, and were fully reported. I voted against the well-intentioned but overly broad Amash amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act in part because of these assurances, and due to my belief that we must strike a thoughtful balance that protects both our constitutional liberties and our security.” [47]

After the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the National Security Agency had likely violated the U.S. Constitution by collecting electronic metadata from all Americans,[48] Sinema said, “Today's court ruling is further evidence of the need for greater oversight of the NSA and its surveillance programs. I oppose the government collection of metadata and have cosponsored the LIBERT-E Act to limit this practice. Protecting our constitutional liberties, including those guaranteed by the 4th Amendment, is one of my highest priorities. We must find the right balance between keeping Americans safe from very real threats and protecting the liberty of our citizens. I will continue to work with members from both sides of the aisle to rein in these programs and protect the constitutional liberties of Arizonans."[49]

Healthcare policy[edit]

Sinema voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act.[50] Sinema has called for reforms to the law.[51] She has said that the health care law isn't perfect, and that in Congress she will work to amend the law to make it work effectively.[52]

Sinema has voted to delay the initiation of fines on those who don’t purchase insurance in 2014. She has also voted to repeal the Medical Device Tax and for the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.[53][54][55]

Speaking about healthcare policy, Sinema said, "I used to say that I wanted universal health-care coverage in Arizona, which went over like a ton of bricks. Turns out, Arizonans hear the word "universal" and think "socialism"—or "pinko commie." But when I say that I want all Arizonans to have access to affordable, quality health care, Arizonans agree wholeheartedly. Same basic idea, different language."[56]

Women's issues[edit]

Sinema has been quoted as saying, "These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they’re choosing to live that life." She later brushed off that comment as a failed attempt at humor.[57]

Foreign policy[edit]

After the September 11 attacks on the United States, Sinema was involved in organizing a Phoenix-area group called the Arizona Alliance for Peaceful Justice (AAPJ). According to The Hill, "The group’s mission statement at the time called military action 'an inappropriate response to terrorism' and advocated for using the legal system — not violence — to bring Osama bin Laden and others to justice." Sinema wrote: "As one of the core organizers against the war from day one (September 12, 2011), I have always and will always continue to oppose war in all its forms."[58]

Sinema has advocated against what she calls the “Israeli occupation” and has helped form several groups that oppose the U.S.-Israel alliance. The AAPJ, which Sinema co-founded, has denounced Israel’s “disproportionate” use of “violence and oppression,” decried U.S. military aid to Israel, and protested the expansion of Israeli settlements “into Palestinian lands.” Sinema's activism and views regarding Israeli have been criticized by Republicans and Democrats, including Jay Goodlik, a former Special Assistant to Bill Clinton.[58][59][60][61] Sinema is a former spokesperson for Women in Black, an anti-war group that was founded in part to support Palestinians during the Intifada.[59][62] She supports reducing defense spending.[63]

Economics[edit]

Sinema supports an income tax increase on the wealthy in favor of cutting services. She has voted in support of federal stimulus spending.[63] She has said: "Raising taxes is more economically sound than cutting vital social services."[64]

Abortion[edit]

Sinema supports abortion rights. She has been endorsed by EMILY's List.[63]

Gun rights[edit]

Sinema supports gun control.[63]

Committee assignments[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

2010[edit]

Arizona's 15th Senate District election, 2010[65]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Kyrsten Sinema 18,013 62.82%
Republican Bob Thomas 10,663 37.18%
Turnout 28,676
Democratic hold Swing

2012[edit]

Arizona's 9th congressional district election, 2012[66]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Kyrsten Sinema 121,881 48.73%
Republican Vernon Parker 111,630 44.63%
Libertarian Powell E. Gammill 16,620 6.64%
Turnout 250,131
Democratic hold Swing

Personal[edit]

On November 17, 2013, Sinema completed an Ironman Triathlon in a little more than 15 hours. According to Politico, Sinema was the second active member of Congress—behind Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)—to finish an Ironman; although several sources, such as Triathlete Magazine, consider Sinema the first, since Merkley completed a non-Ironman-branded race.[67]

On December 25, 2013, Sinema summited Mount Kilimanjaro.[68]

Sinema, who collects shoes, has described herself as "a Prada socialist.”[57]

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Dowd, Peter (January 1, 2013). "Sinema, First Openly Bisexual Member Of Congress, Represents 'Changing Arizona'". NPR. Retrieved January 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (January 2, 2013). "Kyrsten Sinema: A success story like nobody else's". The Washington Post (Phoenix, Arizona). Retrieved January 8, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Oppenheimer, Mark (November 9, 2012). "Politicians Who Reject Labels Based on Religion". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2012.  Sinema's campaign stated that "the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life's work or personal character".
  4. ^ Mehta, Hemant. "BREAKING: Kyrsten Sinema Is Not An Atheist". Patheos. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona District 9, nationaljournal.com; accessed June 7, 2014.
  6. ^ Fincke, Daniel (January 7, 2012). "Openly Bisexual and Non-theist Woman (Who Rejected Parents' Mormonism) Runs For U.S. Congress". Patheos. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Project Vote Smart: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema". Retrieved June 1, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "Sinema biodata". Retrieved June 1, 2008. 
  9. ^ "ASU Directory Profile: Kyrsten Sinema". Webapp4.asu.edu. November 15, 2007. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  10. ^ Winger, Richard (November 13, 2012). "Kyrsten Sinema, Newly-Elected Arizona Congresswoman, Was Once a Green Party Nominee for Arizona Legislature". Ballot Access News. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Election Summary". Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  12. ^ "AZ State House 15 - D Primary Race - Sep 07, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  13. ^ "AZ State House 15 Race - Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  14. ^ "AZ State House 15 Race - Nov 07, 2006". Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  15. ^ "AZ State House 15 Race - Nov 04, 2008". Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Member Page". Azleg.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  17. ^ "AZ State Senate 15 Race - Nov 02, 2010". Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  18. ^ "40 Under 40". Time Magazine. October 19, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Sinema will get our country on the right track,” Ahwatukee Foothills News". Ahwatukee Foothill News. August 26, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Documents For Bill". Azleg.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Straight couples pivotal in gay marriage fight". The Arizona Republic. November 9, 2006. Retrieved June 1, 2008. 
  22. ^ Fischer, Howard (October 27, 2006). "Gay marriage debate sparks a feminism battle". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Member Page". Azleg.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Documents For Bill". Azleg.gov. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Sen. Sinema to Receive Award from CFI for Advancement of Science and Reason in Public Policy" (Press release). Center for Inquiry. March 9, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  26. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (June 9, 2011). "Arizona State Senator Interested in House Bid". Roll Call. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  27. ^ Garcia, Michelle (January 4, 2012). "Bi Politician Announces Congressional Bid". The Advocate. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  28. ^ Arizona Redistricting: Commission releases draft map. Daily Kos, October 4, 2011
  29. ^ González, Daniel (August 28, 2012). "Sinema, Parker win in Congressional District 9". Arizona Republic. 
  30. ^ "November 2012 Election Results". Azcentral.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  31. ^ Carrie Dann, [nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/04/15649841-ten-fresh-faces-to-watch-in-the-new-congress Ten fresh faces to watch in the new Congress, NBC News (December 4, 2012).
  32. ^ Jim Cross, Sinema beats Parker in Arizona's CD9 race, KTAR (November 12, 2012).
  33. ^ David Mendez, From Far, Far Out There in Phoenix: Vernon Parker Says Kyrsten Sinema Is A Pagan Hippie, Tucson Weekly (October 16, 2012); Matthew Hendley, Kyrsten Sinema Doesn't Like America, but Loves Flower Power, According to Vernon Parker Ad, Phoenix New Times (October 16, 2012).
  34. ^ Tim Vetscher, Fact Check: AFF's TV ad attacking Kyrsten Sinema, KNXV-TV (ABC 15) (September 24, 2012); Andrew Sullivan, Ad War Update: Obama Wants To Engulf Your Children In Flames (September 19, 2012)
  35. ^ Reinhart, Mary K. (August 28, 2012). "Ballot count goes on in Arizona". Arizona Republic. 
  36. ^ "Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beats GOP's Vernon Parker in Arizona's 9th Congressional District". The Washington Post, November 12, 2012.
  37. ^ "Kyrsten Sinema Election Results: Arizona Democrat Beats Vernon Parker In Congressional Race". Huffington Post, November 12, 2012.
  38. ^ "Kyrsten Sinema Becomes First Openly Bisexual Member of Congress". ABC News. November 12, 2012. 
  39. ^ "General Election Results". Arizona Secretary of State's Office. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Arizona's 9th Congressional District elections, 2014". Ballotpedia. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  41. ^ "National Journal". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Roll Call". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema News Releases". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Fox News Video". 
  45. ^ "Thomas.gov". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  46. ^ "House Vote 412 - Rejects Limits on N.S.A. Data Collection". Inside Congress. New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Sinema News Release". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  48. ^ "New York Times". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  49. ^ "Sinema News Release". 
  50. ^ "GovTrack". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  51. ^ "Republic Opinion". Arizona Republic. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  52. ^ "2012 Congressional Debate". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  53. ^ "GovTrack". Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  54. ^ "New York Times". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  55. ^ "Gov Track". Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  56. ^ "Kyrsten Sinema on Health Care". On the Issues. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  57. ^ a b Roig-Franzia, Manuel (February 2, 2013). "Kyrsten Sinema: A success story like nobody else’s". Washington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  58. ^ a b Lederman, Josh (February 5, 2012). "Candidate's stance on Afghan, Iraq wars faces scrutiny in Democratic primary". The Hill. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  59. ^ a b Kredo, Adam (2012-04-20). "Adult Sinema". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  60. ^ Benson, Guy (November 5, 2012). ""Moderate" Arizona Democrat Has Deep Ties to Left-Wing Radicals, Obama White House". Townhall. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  61. ^ Goodman, Alana (2012-07-23). "The Reinvention of an Anti-War Activist". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  62. ^ Footlik, Jay (May 8, 2012). "Can Jews believe Kyrsten Sinema?". Jewish Journal. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  63. ^ a b c d "Arizona House Kyrsten Sinema (Democrat, district 9) On the issues". On the Issues. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  64. ^ "Bio Questions". Arizona Republic. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  65. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass". azsos.gov. November 29, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  66. ^ "State of Arizona Official Canvass". azsos.gov. December 3, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  67. ^ Kopan, Tal. "Rep. Kyrsten Sinema finishes Ironman". Politico. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  68. ^ "U.S. Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema Summits with Ultimate Kilimanjaro"

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 9th congressional district

January 3, 2013 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Brad Schneider
D-Illinois
United States Representatives by seniority
413th
Succeeded by
Chris Stewart
R-Utah