It’s Not Me, It’s You


Congressional Lawmakers Return To Work On Capitol Hill After The Weekend

Krysten Sinema not very affectionately kisses voters and her political career good-bye.
Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

It is exceedingly common for self-styled centrist politicians, particularly those who have scorned the two-party system, to argue that malign institutional forces prevent them from giving voters the kind of government they actually want.

You cannot associate ex-Democrat and perpetual Senate maverick Kyrsten Sinema with that argument. On Tuesday afternoon Sinema announced that she’s retiring from the Senate when her term expires and made it abundantly clear that she thinks the voters are the problem, not the system:

If you’re planning on running for office again, it’s not very smart to slam voters for preferring “to retreat to their partisan corners” instead of valuing your legislative accomplishments. So in saying “I believe in my approach, but it’s not what America wants right now,” Sinema is not very affectionately kissing her political career good-bye. “I’m too good for you” is her all-but-explicit message.

Whatever its motivation, Sinema’s formal departure from the 2024 Senate race in Arizona simplifies what would almost certainly have been a complex and very expensive threeway contest with progressive Democrat Ruben Gallego and MAGA Republican Kari Lake. Sinema was not doing well in that prospective race: She’s trailed both Gallego and Lake in every public poll. That’s likely because she angered Democrats with her defense of the filibuster and her cuddly attitude toward Republicans without embracing the full-on reactionary agenda expected in the GOP.

If Gallego and Lake win their respective primaries in July, that will probably be a standard Democrat-versus-Republican contest, with Gallego having a slight advantage thanks to Lake’s especially flamboyant version of Trumpism; she did, after all, lose the 2022 gubernatorial race, though like her idol, she denied the results in and out of court. Right now the major obstacle to that general-election match-up is the possibility that Trump will lift Lake out of the Senate race into the presidential contest as his running mate. If and when that happens, though, Kyrsten Sinema will be well on her way to whatever gig she plans that does not require the approval of voters.

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