Kyrsten Sinema has now clinched victory in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race, meaning she will become the first out bisexual person in the chamber and the second member of the LGBTQ community there, joining lesbian Tammy Baldwin.
Sinema’s lead over Republican Martha McSally grew to about 38,000 votes as counting of ballots continued over the weekend, and late Monday afternoon she was declared the winner, the Associated Press tweeted.
This means Sinema, a Democrat, has flipped a seat to her party’s side. The seat’s current occupant is Republican Jeff Flake, who did not seek reelection.
Sinema and McSally are both currently members of the U.S. House of Representatives; Sinema was the first out bi person there, and she will be the first female U.S. senator from Arizona.
Sinema, who trailed McSally in early vote counting, saw her lead grow over the weekend as ballots came in from the state’s most populous counties, Maricopa and Pima. Some Republicans made accusations of fraud and irregularities, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee claiming Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, “has been using his position to cook the books for Kyrsten Sinema.” Flake, a moderate Republican who sometimes criticizes his own party and Donald Trump, dismissed the idea, saying there is no evidence for it.
The Human Rights Campaign, which had endorsed Sinema, put out a statement hailing her victory. “Arizona voters rejected Donald Trump and Mike Pence’s politics of bigotry and fear and made history by electing bold pro-equality champion Kyrsten Sinema as the nation’s first openly bisexual U.S. Senator,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “For more than a year, HRC has worked to organize 800,000 equality voters across the state and we are proud to have helped Senator-elect Sinema across the finish line in a tight race. We celebrate this incredible moment and look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work with Sinema, and Arizona Congress members Tom O’Halleran, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raul Grijalva, Ruben Gallego, and Greg Stanton to move equality forward for all Arizonans.”
Sinema also had the endorsement of the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “An LGBTQ woman winning a U.S. Senate seat in a state that voted for Trump is a game-changer, both for the LGBTQ community and the Democratic Party,” said a statement released by Victory Fund president and CEO Annise Parker. “Kyrsten’s victory makes clear that an LGBTQ candidate who listens to voters and prioritizes their issues can win elected office anywhere — blue state or red state. It also signals to the Democratic Party that nominating more LGBTQ candidates for high-level positions should be a strategic priority, because their openness and authenticity resonates with independent voters. Now Kyrsten joins Senator Tammy Baldwin, fresh off a huge reelection victory, in a U.S. Senate that continues to disregard White House attacks on our community and refuses to consider protections that most Americans support. By doubling our influence with two passionate and tough LGBTQ women, however, the U.S. Senate will certainly find our community more difficult to ignore.”
And Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, released this statement: “Congratulations to Kyrsten Sinema and Arizona Democrats for such a stunning victory. Arizonans went to the polls last Tuesday looking for bold new leadership, and that’s exactly what they’re going to get with their first-ever female senator and our nation’s second openly LGBTQ senator. Unlike her predecessor, Senator-elect Sinema is ready to fight on day one for quality health care, a VA system that works the way it should for our veterans, comprehensive immigration reform, good-paying jobs, and an economy that works for all Arizonans. The Democratic National Committee was proud to invest in and partner with the Democratic Party of Arizona to expand their voter outreach and help get voters to the polls.”