- Former Ariz. Attorney General Grant Woods told Time that Sinema wants to be seen in the mold of McCain.
- “I think she definitely would like for her legacy to be ‘the maverick’ like him,” he told the magazine.
- The senator has rejected the $3.5 trillion infrastructure price tag, but has not given her red line on spending.
Over the course of 15 years, Kyrsten Sinema has evolved from a progressive Arizona state legislator to a moderate US Senator who has emerged as a thorn in the side of Democrats seeking to pass a gargantuan $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
While most of the senator’s Democratic Senate colleagues want to move the reconciliation bill toward a vote, she, along with fellow moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have rejected the price tag for the legislation, which would provide critical investments in healthcare, childcare, higher education, and climate initiatives.
However, unlike Manchin, who has been more direct in pointing out the costs of prospective bills that could earn his support, many Democratic lawmakers are in the dark about Sinema’s red line on spending.
Sinema’s motives remain unclear to many, but according to former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who switched from the GOP to the Democratic Party after his time in elected office, she wants to viewed in the same mold as the late Republican Sen. John McCain.
“I think she definitely would like for her legacy to be ‘the maverick’ like him,” he told Time magazine. “He was instinctively drawn to doing the opposite of what he was told and what people expected. She’s definitely attracted to that image.”
Sinema has made her reverence for McCain very clear throughout her tenure in Washington, DC.
During her tenure in the House, Sinema eagerly sought to work with Republicans in passing legislation and makes no apologies about forging friendships with those at a different ideological spectrum.
When she won the hotly-contested Arizona Senate contest against then-GOP Rep. Martha McSally in November 2018, she mentioned McCain in her acceptance speech.
“Arizona rejected what has become far too common in our country: name-calling, petty, personal attacks and doing and saying whatever it takes just to get elected,” she said at the time. “We can embrace differences while seeking common ground.”
She added: “[McCain’s] example shines a light on our way forward. Sen. John McCain stood for everything we stand for as Arizonans: fighting for what you believe in, standing up for what’s right even if you stand alone, and serving a cause that’s greater than oneself.”
However, not every Democrat sees Sinema in a similar light as McCain.
“She wants herself viewed as John McCain’s heir. McCain had a reputation about standing up to his party and all that,” a senior national Democrat told Time. “But McCain, you knew what his values were. You never had to question what his vision was for the country. And you really can’t answer that question for Kyrsten.”
An individual with knowledge of the discussions surrounding the infrastructure talks also told Time that Sinema’s strategy for moving forward with the $3.5 trillion spending bill remains unclear.
“She’s either operating and playing three-dimensional chess that no one else is understanding, or she is kind of freewheeling,” the individual said. “It’s hard to define what it is exactly she’s trying to get out of this.”