When I wrote about the Arizona Senate race earlier today and the nearly even polling we’ve seen thus far, I asked if there was anything that might help Martha McSally break through and establish a solid lead over Kyrsten Sinema. I wonder if this might be just the ticket. Some news about Sinema’s early history – something she’s campaigned on heavily and been questioned about before – has emerged in the past 24 hours.
One big part of Sinema’s narrative is the three years she spent homeless as a child. It’s a heartwarming tale of a family grappling with adversity and overcoming the odds. She’s told the story many times, specifically referencing how her family had lived in an abandoned gas station without running water or electricity. Allow me to offer a tip of the hat to the New York Times who did some serious digging and obtained court records showing that the family had been paying electric, phone, and gas bills the entire time. The gas station wasn’t exactly abandoned. It was closed but owned by a family member. And since it had a working toilet it obviously had running water.
While she is now a three-term member of Congress, Ms. Sinema is running as much on her biography — her three years spent homeless as a child — as on any issue. She is using that personal hardship to project grit and distinguish herself from “most people in politics,” as she says.
This emphasis on her life story has had a dual effect: It has highlighted her lack of a strong political identity and it has drawn scrutiny to her story of homelessness and some contradictory elements in it…
But court documents reviewed by The New York Times raise questions about Ms. Sinema’s descriptions of what she endured in the mid-1980s, when her mother remarried and moved the family from Arizona to Florida. And Ms. Sinema herself, as her national profile has risen, has given contradictory answers about her early life.
In filings from 1985 and 1986 to the judge who handled her parents’ divorce, Ms. Sinema’s mother and stepfather outlined monthly payments they made for an electric bill, phone bill and gas bill while living in the former gas station, which was owned by her stepfather’s parents, according to the records reviewed by The Times. The stepfather’s grandparents lived in a farmhouse nearby.
The previous owner of the gas station also told reporters that the building had a normal sink with a spigot and a wood burning stove. So it probably wasn’t an ideal residence, having been designed to serve as a gas station, but they had a roof, doors that locked, and the normal, minimum requirements of a residence on property owned by the family. Not great, but not exactly living under a bridge, either.
To make matters worse, her step-aunt told the Washington Post, “I realize this tugs at people’s heartstrings and that was what she was going for, but, you know, it’s not the truth.”
As I mentioned, Sinema has been asked about these details in the past, but now she’s getting hit with very specific questions. When the Times asked her why that situation qualified as “homeless” she deflected the question, offering a definition of homelessness as “when you’re living in a place that’s not meant for living in.” When asked about the gas, electric and phone bills, she responded, “Oh gosh, I don’t have an answer for that. That’s not something a little kid would hear about from her parents.”
Am I the only one getting flashbacks to Julia Salazar here? First, you find out that the candidate’s narrative about their upbringing is at least partially a fantasy concocted to make for a good campaign biography and then their own family members start speaking up to say that she’s lying.
I suppose the question now is how many voters in Arizona are going to care and if it will change their votes. Perhaps some of the independents who have been on the fence, and that might be enough considering the race is currently polling inside the margins. But as for the hard left base? Don’t count on it. Having someone who lies about their life (even after allegedly writing a book called “Truth” on the importance of politicians never lying) is never going to matter because… Kavanaugh.
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