Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) said during her 2018 Senate campaign that she wants to be the next “John McCain,” according to a report released Friday.
Sinema, a moderate-leaning Democrat who frequently bucks her own party, told her advisers in 2018 that she wants to emulate “John McCain.”
The Arizona Democrat lauded the former Arizona Senate Republican and one-time presidential candidate, calling him a “legend” and “my personal hero.”
Sinema even copied some of McCain’s most dramatic acts in the Senate, including when he bucked his own party.
The Arizona Democrat mimicked McCain’s infamous thumbs down that killed Republicans’ years-long effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when she voted against a minimum wage bill.
Sinema now has become one of the key swing votes in the 50-50 split Senate; although, she serves as one of the key negotiators for a potential bipartisan infrastructure deal. Sinema’s current and former colleagues say she seems to enjoy bucking her own party.
Meghan McCain, McCain’s daughter, said of Sinema, “I think she’s pretty fearless. What’s the worst that can happen to me?’ She’s not scared of being uncool with the woke left. Politically she’s pretty well-tuned to the state in a lot of ways.”
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) said of Sinema:
She is certainly willing to step in in a needed way to bring people together, and she does go her own way. I would say she’s probably similar to McCain in that way. They’re willing to take the slings and arrows from their own side when they’re trying to accomplish something.
One senior Democrat official said Sinema remains friendly with Republicans due to her status as a swing-vote senator.
The aide said:
She’s still new, that’s the bottom line. Do you think if the Republicans were in the majority they would care about Sinema? She has to be wary of the relevancy trap. You can easily be beguiled by the moment. It’s a mistake of early legislators who want to make inroads with the other side at the expense of their own caucus, of their advancement and at the expense of their state.
However, a former Sinema aide warned that emulating McCain may not mesh with today’s Democrat Party.
“She’s trying to brand herself as a brand of Arizonan that won’t exist anymore,” the aide said. “It’s misguided to look backward than forward. You can’t be a carbon copy because it won’t work.”