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    Kyrsten Sinema will not seek reelection in Arizona

    Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) announced she will not seek reelection this year, avoiding an unpredictable three-way race in the swing state that had many national Democrats worried about holding onto the seat.

    “I believe in my approach, but it’s not what America wants right now,” Sinema said in a video announcing her plans.

    She listed several bipartisan accomplishments but said “compromise is a dirty word” in the current system, and that her political style was no longer appreciated.

    “Despite modernizing our infrastructure, ensuring clean water, delivering good jobs and safer communities, Americans still choose to retreat farther to their partisan corners,” Sinema said. “These solutions are considered failures, either because they’re too much or not nearly enough.”

    Sinema’s plans have been a topic of intense speculation in Washington ever since she left the Democratic party in 2022, declaring herself an independent. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) entered the race more than a year ago, while Kari Lake, a former gubernatorial candidate and TV news anchor, is widely expected to nab the Republican nomination.

    The marathoner and triathlete is known for her fierce competitive streak, and allies had speculated she would not run in a race where she did not see a clear path to victory. Polls had shown her lagging far behind both Lake and Gallego despite her widespread name recognition in the state.

    Sinema, the first openly bisexual person to serve in the Senate, started out in politics affiliated with the Green Party before becoming a Democrat and later assembling a winning coalition in 2018 that included “McCain Republicans” — conservative fans of the late Arizona senator’s maverick streak. But she alienated many Democrats back home by pushing back against a plan to eliminate the Senate filibuster to allow legislation to pass the chamber with a bare majority, as well as with a vote against attaching a minimum wage hike to a COVID relief bill. Many of her closest relationships in the Senate are with Republicans.

    Sinema has cut an outsize figure in the Senate in her short time in the chamber, and been central to many bipartisan pieces of legislation that have become law. She helped pass bills to promote gun safety and mental health services, infrastructure funding, and the protection of LGBTQ marriages in the event the Supreme Court ever revisits its decision to recognize them. She recently spearheaded negotiations to secure the US-Mexico border and overhaul the asylum system, which produced a sweeping deal that most Republicans promptly abandoned due to opposition from former president Trump.

    But people close to Sinema said she had begun to worry that her bipartisan brand of dealmaking was no longer in demand with voters in a polarized era.

    Her decision not to run again is likely a relief to Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who had not said whether they would back Sinema over Gallego if she did run again. There is a long-standing tradition of the DSCC backing incumbents, but after Sinema left the party in 2022 and has said she does not caucus with Democrats, it became less clear how the group would handle her reelection.

    Some Democratic strategists said they believed her run could hurt Gallego’s bid, empowering the Trump-endorsed Lake, who has denied the results of the 2022 election she previously lost in.

    Democrats, who currently hold a slim 51-seat majority in the Senate, face a difficult map in 2024. Democratic incumbents in red states including Ohio and Montana are up for reelection, while Republicans who are running for reelection are doing so in states that voted for Trump in 2020. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va) announced he is not running for his seat, all but guaranteeing a Republican wins there.

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