Arizona Senate Candidate Sinema Running as ‘Centrist’ to Capture Moderate Votes, Staff Says

Supporters reveal she is still a progressive
October 30, 2018 Updated: October 30, 2018

An undercover investigation by Project Veritas Action Fund reveals that while many supporters and campaign staffers of Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) believe she is “very liberal” and “progressive,” she has been campaigning as a centrist to make herself appear more electable to moderate voters in Arizona.

Sinema doesn’t “want to draw too much attention to being progressive,” Lauren Fromm, a campaign field organizer, told one of the undercover reporters from Project Veritas Action (PVA) who had embedded themselves in Sinema’s campaign.

Confronted with Fromm’s comments on KTAR News on Oct. 30, Sinema declined to confirm Fromm’s affiliation with her campaign. “I don’t know who Lauren is, so I can’t answer that question,” she said.

She then questioned PVA’s credibility. “Let’s take everything they say with a grain of salt,” she said. “They’re convicted criminals.”

PVA founder James O’Keefe was sentenced to three years of probation in 2010, after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for entering a federal building under false pretenses. He had tried to sneak into the office of then-Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) to investigate allegations that Landrieu was ignoring telephone calls from constituents during the Obamacare debate.

Sinema has been running for Senate less as a party-line Democrat and more as an independent who will stand up for the interests of Arizonans. Referring to her six years in Congress, she told one reporter, “I’ve been non-partisan, really just solving people’s problems at a very practical level.”

Some political commentators have been describing Sinema as a low-risk candidate for moderates to support. They cite her voting record as appealing to Republicans and independent voters, because she has voted for bills introduced by the Trump administration 62 percent of the time, according to the political tracking website FiveThirtyEight.

Hidden Cameras

But those who are supporting her campaign revealed to hidden cameras a different picture of what they believe Sinema’s “independent” campaign will achieve if she can secure a seat in the Senate.

“She had to play centrist to move up, become powerful,” Madison Snarr, a field organizer, told one reporter as he expressed concern that Sinema was too moderate for his liking.

Another field organizer, Michael Smyser, explained to a reporter his view of Sinema’s moderate voting record in the House: “It makes sense, as well, why she’s a more moderate Democrat, in the House, at least.

“Like her voting, it’s just because those are only two-year terms. And so, with such short terms … there’s not a lot of time for them to get … the public that they’re representing on board with a lot of more swinging-left type things.

“But when there’s six years, with a Senate seat … she has more time to slowly move over and have that be accepted by a majority of the base to still have a really good chance of re-election as well.”

“Baby steps,” Smyser said.

“There’s a lot of very conservative people in Arizona,” Fromm said, “And so she can’t alienate the conservative or moderate conservative voters by being super pro- … she is pro-choice. She is very liberal, she’s progressive.”

Campaign Donors

Reporters were also able to capture some comments from Sinema’s campaign donors about their view on her politics.

When asked if he thought Sinema’s campaign has been liberal enough, Steve Andrews—one of Sinema’s big donors—told a reporter, “That’s not a way to win in this state.”

Speaking from a place of considering Sinema’s long-term career, Andrews said, “She knows to survive and get elected, she’s gotta walk the walk a little bit. And I respect that, because I’m tired of losing.”

He said that in his eyes, Sinema is a liberal “in her heart,” adding, “She was pretty liberal early on.”

Sinema first entered politics as a political activist for the Green Party. She told USA Today last year that she has since shifted toward the political center, after having the opportunity to “learn and grow.”

“She’s got one goal in mind,” Andrews said. “Winning.” That’s why, in recent times, Sinema has been careful not to “do anything stupid” to alienate her voters, he said.

One supporter after another revealed they didn’t believe Sinema shared the views of the moderate base she has worked so hard to build during her campaign for the Senate, saying that she has strategically held back on expressing her progressive views on issues such as immigration and gun control. Sinema revealed to one hidden camera that she was in support of amnesty to “every person who’s in this country [illegally] who isn’t bad.”

But once in the Senate, Andrews said that even if she doesn’t stray from her current moderate image, “she’ll be a vote” against Trump.

“If they [Democrats] get control of both houses during the Trump administration, it would be big. That’s why we’re so heavily invested in the Senate,” he said.

Sinema’s campaign lobbyist, Ron Ober, was also caught on camera explaining to Sinema’s supporters that he supported her centrist strategy and thought it was the only way to win, citing former Democratic Sen. Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, who he helped win in 1976.

“So when you hear your Democrat friends tell you that she’s [Sinema’s] too conservative, don’t let them stay home,” Ober urged.

He added that he “would never let her talk” about the issues that Democrats really cared about.

Sinema told those same supporters herself, “What I really need are [sic] help reaching out to independents, and moderate to even conservative Republicans. Those are the voters we need to win this election.”

Running With Communist Party USA Support

According to Joelle Fishman, head of the Communist Party USA’s powerful Political Action Commission, the party is actively engaged in the Senate races in the two so-called purple states of Arizona and Texas, where there is a chance that a “Republican seat can be flipped.”

Fromm also revealed that Sinema’s Senate campaign has to date been funded with “so much Democratic help” without which “she wouldn’t have won.”

Sinema has also managed to secure the first endorsement for a Democratic Senate candidate in the last 18 years from Arizona’s largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic.

Traditionally a red state, Republican support in Arizona has been slipping in recent years. The 2016 presidential elections showed a significant loss, with President Donald Trump winning with only a 3.57 percent margin, compared to Mitt Romney’s 9.03 percent win in 2012.

Sinema is going head-to-head with Republican Rep. Martha McSally in a race to fill Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat. Flake, who isn’t running for re-election, won the seat by nearly a million votes in 2012. The last time a Democrat from Arizona was elected to the U.S. Senate was in 1982.

Sinema’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Update: The article was updated to more accurately represent how Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s campaign staff and supporters described her political views. Also added were Sinema’s comments to KTAR News.