In what is surely a head-scratcher for the rest of the nation, Arizona’s slowly unfolding election has just awarded the newly created 9th Congressional District seat to Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema is not only a Democratic woman, but will be the first openly bisexual member of Congress.
Her Republican opponent, Vernon Parker, was a Tea Party candidate who was formerly the mayor of ritzy Paradise Valley in the northern reaches of Maricopa County. That would be the same Maricopa County where controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio is still hoping to maintain his lead with voters as the ballot count continues.
Republicans tried to paint Sinema as too liberal for the newly created district, which encompasses a large swath of the Phoenix Metropolitan area, including Paradise Valley. One of their points was that single, childless Sinema couldn’t understand stay-at-home moms; however, that argument was undercut by pointing out that Parker would slash funding for the federal education department, thus harming children.
According to Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Republicans had a slight registration advantage in the district, but both parties’ memberships were exceeded by the number of registered independents. The outcome of the race lends support to the sense that the new district leans Democratic.
Sinema’s election brings Arizona’s Congressional delegation to a 4-4 split between Democrats and Republicans, but one last seat is still undecided. Rep. Ron Barber of Tucson, who succeeded Gabrielle Giffords, has maintained a small lead over his Republican rival but, as the nation knows, early and provisional ballots are still being tallied in the state. If he ultimately prevails, Arizona’s Congressional delegation will be 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans–a huge win for liberals!