In 2002, The Republic of Arizona released a letter by Kyrsten Sinema, then a social worker preparing to apply for a seat in the House of Representatives and criticizing capitalism. Capitalism, she wrote, gave us NAFTA, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization to benefit the American ruling class at the expense of workers in the United States and abroad. “Until the average American realizes that capitalism is harming her livelihood while increasing the livelihood of the rich, the almighty dollar will continue to rule,” she concluded. “It certainly doesn’t work in our favor.”
When she first ran for office, Sinema ran as an independent candidate for the Arizona Green Party. She lost and finished last in a five-way race. By the next year, based on her previous work on Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign, she had become a vocal antiwar activist. At the beginning of the Iraq war, she organized 15 rallies, the largest protests in downtown Phoenix in February 2003, which were attended by an estimated 2,500 people. The flyers promoting the rally as a KFile from CNN reporteddemanded direct action “against Bush and his fascist, imperialist war”.
Sinema joined the Democratic Party in 2004 and over time has lost her self-described reputation as a “bomb thrower”. Erika Andiola, a longtime immigration activist based in Phoenix, met Sinema in the early 2000s through her work on immigration while the legislature was working in the state parliament. Andiola said Sinema has always been “extremely helpful and supportive” in her work with deportation cases, noting that the Arizona Democrat has worked extensively as a social worker with immigrant communities and on the border. “She has been an advocate for many of us who pushed the state parliament against some of these bills against immigrants,” Andiola said. During her tenure in the Arizona state legislature, Sinema was considered one of the most progressive members of her caucus, and fought eagerly for many of the same things her Senate colleagues now support. In 2011 the Phoenix New Times called her a “local left symbol. ”
Sinema was first elected to Congress in 2012 to represent the 9th Congressional District of Arizona, which is entirely housed in Maricopa County and covers Tempe and parts of Phoenix. As the newly elected US representative, Sinema hired Andiola as her district outreach director. But Sinema’s past as a leftist activist would return to haunt her in the 2018 Senate’s highly competitive race against Republican Marthy McSally. McSally attempted to portray Sinema as inadequately patriotic by resurfacing her previous antiwar activism and once accusing her of “Treason. “But McSally was already unpopular and their decision to focus campaign news on Sinema being too far to the left didn’t resonate with voters. After beating McSally by a margin of 2.3 percentage points, Sinema became the first Arizona woman to be elected to the Senate, the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Arizona in 30 years, and the first bisexual Senator to that was chosen from somewhere.