As expected, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) is running for the US Senate seat of Sen. Jeff Flake (R). Sinema has a very interesting history. A former Green party activist and self-styled “Prada Socialist”, Sinema won a seat in the legislature and the 2012 primary for AZ-9 as a staunch liberal. However, since entering Congress, she has moved strongly to the right and has compiled a moderate voting record in Congress. Her successful re-invention speaks quite highly to her political skills (if it raises questions about her candor). As such, it was always seen as a question of when, not if, she would mount a statewide run. That she would choose this race is no surprise; Flake is extremely vulnerable as he has managed to alienate primary voters with his social moderation without garnering the kind of crossover support his senior colleague, John McCain (R), has. Flake has thus trailed polls of the primary to little-known Republicans, and is trailing Sinema in general election polling as well. As such Democrats’ securing of an “A” list recruit assures that the general election will be hotly-contested.
Sinema’s decision opens up AZ-9, a heavily Mathismandered D+4 seat designed to vacuum up just about every available white Democrat in the Phoenix area. The seat is a backwards “C” stretching from upscale areas of central Phoenix to downtown Scottsdale, through the college town of Tempe and the lower-middle-class western part of Mesa, and finishing in middle-class areas south of South Mountain. The seat is trending left and very likely, though perhaps not quite certain, to stay in Dem hands. Dems look likely to get a top recruit for this seat in Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D), who was considering a run for Senate but is thought ready to defer to Sinema and run for this seat. If he runs, Stanton is likely to be a strong favorite in the primary and general. Beyond him, Tempe councilman and ex-State Sen. David Schapira (D), who is currently running for Superintendent, could potentially switch here. State Sens. Sean Bowie (D), Katie Hobbs (D) and John Mendez (D) live in the seat, along with five Dem State Reps. Republicans have a quite thin bench here. There is just one legislator in the seat, State Rep. Jill Norgaard (R). County Commissioner Bill Gates (R) may also live in the district. Tech executive and 2014 Gov candidate/2016 AZ-5 candidate Christine Jones (R) could be a possibility as well, as could ex-Tempe Mayor and 2014 Treasurer candidate Hugh Hallman (R). From the prior candidate file, there is ex-Rep. Ben Quayle (R), who represented part of this seat in his one term from 2010-12, 2012 nominee Vernon Parker (R), and 2014 nominee Wendy Rogers (R).