The Arizona Republic had not endorsed a Democrat for Senate in nearly two decades, but that just changed.
The state’s largest newspaper, which is known for having a right-leaning editorial board, officially endorsed Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the race for the seat being vacated by the outgoing Senator Jeff Flake. Sinema is facing off against Republican Martha McSally, and the editorial board noted that McSally’s attack ads against her opponent have fallen flat.
“McSally and other groups have painted Sinema as a tutu-wearing leftist who – repeat it with us, because we know you’ve seen the ad –– was protesting our country while McSally was on a combat mission defending it,” the editorial board noted.
But the paper noted that Sinema has been a centrist, frequently supporting Republican legislation and even voting for Donald Trump’s agenda 62 percent of the time. In the end, it was Sinema’s temperament more than her policy positions that won over the Arizona Republic editorial board.
“She has traveled a long ways from the street-marching activist she once was to the good-natured centrist she now is,” the paper’s board wrote.
“In a Washington in which rancor and malice are disturbingly normal, Sinema is the antidote.”
McSally has found herself in some trouble with attacks against her opponent this week. As the Arizona Republic noted, she claimed that a comment Sinema made in 2003 showed that the Democratic Congresswoman supported the Taliban. Sinema had said in a radio appearance that it was “fine” if someone were to join the Taliban in a hypothetical situation posed by the show’s host.
The Arizona Republic's editorial board has endorsed Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema over Republican Martha McSally, marking the first time the publication has endorsed a Democrat for the Senate since at least 2000. https://t.co/DblsQtXmpc
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 21, 2018
McSally said that the comment amounted to “treason,” and noted that the punishment for treason is death. She later walked back the comment, saying she was not trying to insinuate that her opponent should be put to death for the comment. But in an appearance on Fox News Sunday on Fox, McSally again hit at her opponent for the remark.
“This is personal to those of us who went over there to fight and this just shows that she’s disqualified to being a United States senator,” the Republican said.
The Arizona Republic‘s endorsement was significant enough to garner some national headlines, as the newspaper has a streak of strictly endorsing Republicans dating back to 2000. It could also be a tipping point in the race, as Sinema and McSally are tied in the polls and the race could be critical in the Democrats’ long-shot hopes of taking the Senate.