|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Arizona's 9th district
Assumed office |
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Member of the Arizona Senate|
from the 15th district
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
January 10, 2005 – January 10, 2011
Kyrsten Lea Sinema|
July 12, 1976
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (2004–present)|
|Independent (before 2004)|
Brigham Young University (BA)|
Arizona State University (MSW, JD, PhD)
Kyrsten Lea Sinema (/
After her election to Congress, she shifted toward the political center, joining the conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and amassing a center-left voting record. Sinema 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 was the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Congress.
Sinema is running in 2018 to replace Senator Jeff Flake, who declined to run for reelection. She won the Democratic nomination on August 28, becoming the first openly bisexual person to win a major party nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. If elected, she will be the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Senate and the second openly LGBT person ever to serve in the Senate, after Tammy Baldwin.
- 1 Early life, education, early career
- 2 Arizona State Legislature
- 3 U.S. House of Representatives
- 4 2018 U.S. Senate election
- 5 Political positions
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Electoral history
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life, education, early career
Sinema was born in Tucson, Arizona, in 1976. Her parents divorced when she was a child. When her stepfather lost his job, the family lived for three years in a remodeled gas station in Florida. Sinema was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sinema graduated as valedictorian from Walton High School at age 16 and went on to earn her B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1995 at age 18. She left the Mormon church after graduating from BYU. Sinema received her Master of Social Work degree from Arizona State University in 1999. In 2004, she earned a J.D. degree from Arizona State University College of Law. In 2012, she earned a Ph.D. degree in Justice Studies, also from Arizona State.
Sinema was a social worker from 1995 to 2002. In 2000, she worked on Ralph Nader's presidential campaign. She also practiced law in the Washington Elementary School District. 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. She has also been an adjunct instructor teaching Master's level policy and grant-writing classes at Arizona State University School of Social Work since 2003.
Arizona State Legislature
Sinema first ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in 2002, as an independent affiliated with the Arizona Green Party. She finished in last place in a five-candidate field, receiving 8% of the vote.
In 2004, Sinema won the Democratic primary for Arizona's 15th district, with 37% of the vote. David Lujan also won election with 34% (there are two seats in each district). Sinema was subsequently reelected three times with over 30% of the vote. In 2009 and 2010, Sinema was an assistant Minority Leader for the Democratic Caucus of the Arizona House of Representatives.
In 2006, Sinema sponsored a bill urging the adoption of the DREAM Act. 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. (In 2008 a similar referendum, Proposition 102, passed.) Speaking to a 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 is some sort of feminism because they're choosing to live that life. That's bullshit. I mean, what the fuck are we really talking about here?'" After facing criticism, Sinema apologized and said the interview format was intended to be a "light-hearted spoof". "I was raised by a stay-at-home mom," she said. "So, she did a pretty good job with me."
In 2008, Sinema led the campaign against Proposition 102, another referendum that would have banned the recognition of same-sex marriage 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.
In June 2009 Sinema was one of 32 state legislators appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Health Reform Task Force, which helped shape the Affordable Care Act. "Thanks in part to her hard work in improving the bill," Sinema was invited to attend the Obamacare bill signing at the White House in March 2010.
In 2010, she sponsored a bill to give in-state tuition to veterans; it was held in committee and did not receive a vote.
U.S. House of Representatives
In June 2011, Sinema said she was considering running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. She lived in the same Phoenix neighborhood as incumbent Democratic congressman Ed Pastor, but was adamant that she would not challenge another Democrat in a primary. On January 3, 2012, Sinema announced her bid for Congress, in the 9th congressional district. The district had previously been the 5th, represented by freshman Republican David Schweikert; it contains 60% of the old 5th's territory. Schweikert had been drawn into the 6th District—the old 3rd District—and sought reelection there.
Although Sinema was not required to resign her State Senate seat under Arizona's resign-to-run laws (since she was in the final year of her term), she did so on the same day that she announced her candidacy. On August 28, 2012, Sinema won the three-way Democratic primary with nearly 42% of the vote. Her opponents, state Senator David Schapira and former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherny, a former speechwriter in the Clinton administration, each finished with less than 30% of the vote.
In the general election Sinema ran against Republican nominee Vernon Parker, the former mayor of Paradise Valley. Sinema was endorsed by the Arizona Republic. The campaign was described as a "nasty", "bitterly fought race that featured millions of dollars in attack ads". Parker ran campaign ads that accused Sinema of being an "anti-American hippie" who practiced "Pagan rituals". The Republican-aligned outside group American Future Fund spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on attack ads against Sinema. When Sinema's religious views were raised as an issue, her campaign stated that she simply believes in a secular approach to government.
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. Sinema held a narrow lead over Parker, while provisional and absentee ballots were still being counted. 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. Once all ballots were counted, Sinema won by 4.1 percentage points, over 10,000 votes. Libertarian Powell Gammill finished third with 6.64% of the votes. When she took office on January 3, 2013, she became only the second Anglo Democrat to represent the Valley of the Sun in over three decades. The first, Harry Mitchell, occupied the seat Sinema now holds from 2007 to 2011.
According to Roll Call, Sinema billed herself as bipartisan. This was seen as a response to her district's voting pattern. It was drawn as a "fair-fight" district, and voted for President Barack Obama by just 4 points in 2012. In September 2014, she was endorsed for reelection by the United States Chamber of Commerce, becoming one of five Democrats to be endorsed by the Chamber in the 2014 congressional election cycle. She was reelected with approximately 55% of the vote, beating GOP nominee Wendy Rogers by 13 points.
Unopposed in her primary, Sinema won the general election with 60.9% of the vote. Her opponent, Republican nominee Dave Giles, received 39%.
- Committee on Financial Services
2018 U.S. Senate election
In March 2018, Sinema donated to charity $33,800 in campaign contributions she had received from Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic donor who came under scrutiny after a homeless escort died of a drug overdose at his California home in 2017. She had previously donated to charity $53,400 in campaign contributions from people with ties to Backpage, a website that was seized by the United States Department of Justice after it was accused of knowingly accepting ads for sex with underage girls.
Sinema has been described as a centrist or moderate Democrat. According to National Journal's 2013 Vote Ratings, her votes place her near the center of their liberal-conservative scale. The National Journal gave her a composite ideology score of 57% liberal and 43% conservative. According to the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy, Sinema was the sixth most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the first session of the 115th United States Congress.
In 2015 and 2016, she did not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. In 2015, she voted 73% with the majority of her own party. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity gives Sinema a lifetime 27% rating and the conservative Goldwater Institute gave her a 35% in 2010 when she was a state legislator; the progressive Americans for Democratic Action gave her a 60% liberal quotient. In 2017, she voted in line with President Donald Trump's position approximately half the time. According to Five ThirtyEight, as of July 2018, Sinema voted in line with Trump's position on legislation 59.5% of the time.
Sinema supports abortion rights. She has been endorsed by EMILY's List. She has a lifetime 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, which is pro-choice, and a 20% rating from the pro-life organization Campaign for Working Families as of 2018.
In 2015, Sinema was one of just seven House Democrats to vote in favor of a Republican-backed bill to repeal the estate tax, which affects about 0.2% of deaths in the U.S. each year (estates of $5.43 million or more for individuals, or $10.86 million or more for couples). That same year, she voted to change the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's leadership from a single director to a bipartisan commission.
In 2016, with Republican congressman John Katko of New York, Sinema cosponsored the Working Parents Flexibility Act (H.R. 4699). This legislation would establish a tax-free "parental savings account" in which employers and parents could invest savings tax-free, with unused funds eligible to be "rolled into qualifying retirement, college savings or ABLE accounts for people with disabilities without tax penalties."
While a law student at Arizona State University, Sinema organized pacifist protests, including against the Iraq War. She also opposed the war in Aghanistan at the time. She supported the Gulf War. In 2006, she said she opposed "war in all its forms". After joining Congress in 2012, Sinema said that her views on military force had evolved, and that "you should never take military intervention off the table. When you do so, you give an out to a rogue nation or rogue actors." The Hill summarized her views on foreign policy as being in favor of "aggressive diplomacy, crippling sanctions to combat proliferation, and swift, multilateral intervention as a last resort". She supports the use of military force to stop genocide, such as in Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda. She wrote a doctoral dissertation on the Rwandan genocide that Lexington Books published in 2015.
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, 2001), I have always and will always continue to oppose war in all its forms."
Sinema favors gun control measures such as requiring background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows, and requiring a license for gun possession. In 2016 the National Rifle Association (NRA), which opposes gun regulations, gave Sinema a 29% rating. The Gun Owners of America (GOA) have given her a "D" rating.
Sinema voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act. She has called for reforms to the law. In a 2012 congressional campaign debate, she said the health care law wasn't perfect, and that in Congress she would work to amend the law to make it work effectively. Sinema voted to delay the initiation of fines on those who did not purchase insurance in 2014. She also voted to repeal the Medical Device Tax and for the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013.
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."
Sinema co-sponsored the Southwest Border Security Threat Assessment Act (H.R. 4482), a bill that calls for border threat analysis of terrorism, smuggling, and human trafficking every five years.
Sinema was one of 24 House Democrats to vote in favor of Kate's Law, a bill that would expand maximum sentences for foreigners who attempt to reenter the country, legally or illegally, after having been deported, denied entry or removed, and for foreign felons who attempt to reenter the country.
Sinema voted for the SAFE Act, which expanded the refugee screening process to require signatures from the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Director of National Intelligence for each refugee entering the country.
Sinema opposed Arizona SB 1070. She has argued that mass deportation of undocumented immigrants is not an option and supported the DREAM Act. Her 2012 campaign website stated that "we need to create a tough but fair path to citizenship for undocumented workers that requires them to get right with the law by paying back taxes, paying a fine and learning English as a condition of gaining citizenship." In July 2018, she broke with her party by voting with Republicans against abolishing ICE.
In June 2013, Sinema became one of 29 original cosponsors of the bipartisan LIBERT-E (Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email) Act, along with Rep. Justin Amash. The legislation would limit the National Security Agency (NSA) to only collecting electronic information from subjects of an investigation.
In July 2013, Sinema joined a bipartisan majority and voted against an amendment to a defense appropriations bill (offered by Amash) to prohibit the NSA from monitoring and recording details of U.S. citizens' telecommunications without a warrant.
In 2016, Sinema was one of just five House Democrats to vote for a Republican-backed bill barring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating broadband rates. Her vote broke from her party; other Democrats were strongly opposed to the measure, and President Obama said he would veto it if it passed.
Sinema married, and later divorced, her BYU classmate Blake Dain.
On November 17, 2013, Sinema completed an Ironman Triathlon in a little more than 15 hours. Sinema was the second active member of Congress—behind Senator Jeff Merkley—to finish a long distance triathlon, and the first to complete an Ironman-branded race. On December 25, 2013, Sinema summited Mount Kilimanjaro.
She has credited the government, her church, her teachers, and her family for helping her climb out of poverty.
|Arizona's 15th House of Representatives District election, 2002|
|Arizona's 15th House of Representatives District Democratic Primary election, 2004|
|Democratic||Wally Straughn (incumbent)||2,726||28.98%|
|Arizona's 15th House of Representatives District election, 2004|
|Arizona's 15th House of Representatives District Democratic Primary election, 2006|
|Democratic||Kyrsten Sinema (incumbent)||3,590||42.31%|
|Democratic||David Lujan (incumbent)||3,571||42.09%|
|Arizona's 15th House of Representatives District election, 2006|
|Democratic||David Lujan (incumbent)||15,951||33.12%|
|Democratic||Kyrsten Sinema (incumbent)||15,723||32.64%|
|Arizona's 15th House of Representatives District election, 2008|
|Democratic||David Lujan (incumbent)||23,781||40.06%|
|Democratic||Kyrsten Sinema (incumbent)||22,721||38.28%|
|Arizona's 9th congressional district election, 2012|
|Libertarian||Powell E. Gammill||16,620||6.64%|
|Democratic||Kyrsten Sinema (Incumbent)||88,609||54.60|
|Democratic||Kyrsten Sinema (Incumbent)||169,055||60.95|
- List of LGBT members of the United States Congress
- Women in the United States House of Representatives
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kyrsten Sinema.|
- Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema official U.S. House website
- Kyrsten Sinema for U.S. Senate
- Kyrsten Sinema at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Kyrsten Sinema official Arizona Senate website (archived)
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|New constituency|| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 9th congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Arizona
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority
|113th||Senate: J. McCain | J. Flake||House: E. Pastor | T. Franks | R. Grijalva | P. Gosar | D. Schweikert | R. Barber | A. Kirkpatrick | M. Salmon | K. Sinema|
|114th||Senate: J. McCain • J. Flake||House: T. Franks • R. Grijalva • P. Gosar • D. Schweikert • A. Kirkpatrick • M. Salmon • K. Sinema • R. Gallego • M. McSally|
|115th||Senate: J. McCain (until Aug. 2018) • J. Flake • J. Kyl (from Sep. 2018)||House: T. Franks (until Dec. 2017) • R. Grijalva • P. Gosar • D. Schweikert • K. Sinema • R. Gallego • M. McSally • A. Biggs • T. O'Halleran • D. Lesko (from Apr. 2018)|