Newly-elected Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema didn’t object to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bid to continue leading the party, despite previously saying she wouldn’t support him if elected.
Sinema is facing criticism of breaking her campaign promise just days after she claimed victory against Republican Martha McSally in a tightly-contested race in Arizona.
“I am not going to vote for him,” Sinema told Politico in June, referring to the New York Democrat, casting herself as a moderate Democrat.
"I am not going to vote for [Chuck Schumer]."
But on Wednesday, Schumer was re-elected as Senate minority leader on a unanimous voice vote, with Sinema not objecting to his candidacy. The Arizona Democrat said in a statement that she didn’t object to Schumer’s leadership because there was no one else challenging him.
“Arizonans know I will work with anyone — in either party — to get things done for our state,” she said. “It’s time for a new approach on both sides of the aisle and I look forward to working with my colleagues to cut through the dysfunction and deliver results for Arizona.”
“Had there been a challenger for minority leader, I would have considered new leadership and a fresh perspective,” Sinema continued. “I will continue to put Arizona over party.”
But her explanation prompted criticism from Republicans who have accused Sinema of falsely claiming to be a moderate voice within the Democratic Party despite her progressive past and comments.
“Kyrsten Sinema sells out Arizona in record time,” a GOP-affiliated Senate Leadership Fund said in a press release just after Schumer was confirmed.
Republican groups criticized Sinema throughout the election for her radical progressive past, including promotion of events with a lawyer convicted for aiding an Islamist terror organization and its leader. In a 2003 radio interview, Sinema said “I don’t care” if people go to fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan, prompting McSally to accuse the Democrat of “treason” during a debate.
McSally conceded the race to Sinema on Monday night after a vote count showed her trailing by more than 38,000 votes out of more than 2.2 million ballots cast.