Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic congresswoman running for Jeff Flake's Senate seat, has spent a long time cultivating an image as a moderate. But this facade may not hold up through Election Day in the eyes of Arizonans.
Sinema, who has muted and at other points blatantly lied about the rabid anti-military activism of her past, has lost her polling lead over Republican challenger and former fighter pilot, Rep. Martha McSally.
Sinema held over a seven-point lead in July, not long after McSally fended off primary challengers on her right. Most national media painted Sinema at that point as a "top-tier," "GOP friendly," and always "moderate" Democrat. However, more scrupulous journalists dug into Sinema's past and found her promoting 9/11 trutherism, lambasting and degrading American troops, calling stay-at-home moms "leeches," and protesting on behalf of terrorists. They also found that more recently she has cultivated a habit of insulting Arizonans as "crazy" to get a laugh from out-of-state audiences.
Despite a comically weak line of questioning at this week's Arizona Senate debate, which effectively ignored the slew of potentially career-ending stories unearthed about Sinema's seedy past, a New York Times poll has found that as October comes to a close, Arizonans have shifted in McSally's direction, and possibly just in time to help Republicans hold Flake's seat.
With a margin of error still two points greater than McSally's lead in the Times poll, this race is still disturbingly too close to call. But it should serve as an example of why it's so important to vet candidates before nominating them. The irony is that people expected Republicans to have a candidate vetting problem if Joe Arpaio won the nomination. The Democrats might have ended up with such a problem instead.