There’s a consensual delusion playing out within part of the left these days that Kyrsten Sinema—the subject of endless Washingtonian curiosity on account of her tacky yellow-winged frocks, wigs, go-go boots, oenophile bisexual ironman lifestyle, date nights with Kevin McCarthy, and, yes, Democrat-to-independent conversion—might somehow decide not to run for re-election in 2024. Of course, that would make things easier for the Democrats—easier for Rep. Ruben Gallego, her pesky Democratic challenger, who has been aiming his fire at Sinema for years; for majority leader Chuck Schumer, who presumably prefers to stay neutral rather than antagonize Sinema, who votes with his caucus the vast majority of the time; and for caucus more generally, which is sick of her complicating their priorities as a mini-Manchin. Perhaps, the wistful fantasy goes, Sinema will just decide she’d rather ride things out writing bestsellers in the desert and sitting on the board of companies like Pfizer.
Alas, this is all nonsense: Sinema, a fundraising machine and darling of Wall Street and Big Pharma, alike, will run for Senate in Arizona as an independent, even if that means she’s a spoiler for Democrats. Why would she have registered as an independent if she wasn’t an ambitious candidate? Sinema, after all, was abandoned by her prior campaign team—consultants, pollsters and advertisers—on the calculated gamble that she would lose a Democratic primary and needed to switch parties. She is also acting like a candidate, raising money from the likes of Blackstone C.E.O. Steve Schwarzman, who just hosted a fundraiser for her at his house in Palm Beach, presumably reciprocating some good will after Sinema axed the carried interest loophole from the Inflation Reduction Act.
Perhaps denial is the first step toward acceptance. But, either way, the Democrats are currently handling Sinema with kid gloves. I’m told from a senior party aide that Schumer will not pressure her to back out of the race. He also won’t tell Gallego to stand down, either. That would be a fool’s errand, anyway, which could be cut and clipped in either of their ads. “If they could have convinced Gallego not to run, they would have already,” said a former Senate aide. “He now has an open primary to himself, he’d be crazy not to run.”