Schumer tells Sinema he's backing her in Ariz. Senate race

Schumer tells Sinema he's backing her in Ariz. Senate race
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerAn August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Schumer's moment to transform transit and deepen democracy MORE (D-N.Y.) phoned Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) during the August recess and told her he would back her over other primary candidates should she decide to run against vulnerable Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (R-Ariz.), multiple sources told The Hill.

Schumer also placed a phone call with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, another Democrat who had been eyeing a Senate bid, and told him he was going with Sinema, the sources said.

The phone calls are the clearest sign yet that Sinema, 41, a centrist Democrat serving her third term in the House, is gearing up for a Senate run in the Grand Canyon State.

An announcement is expected any day.

It’s not even certain that Sinema would face her former House colleague, Flake, in a general-election match-up. He’s deeply unpopular in Arizona and has been locked in a months-long feud with President Trump, whose allies are working to unseat Flake for his disloyalty.

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A HighGround poll in Arizona found that one Trump-inspired GOP primary challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward, is leading Flake 43 percent to 28 percent. That same poll showed Sinema beating Flake in a potential match-up 41 percent to 33 percent.

“She’s done a very effective job working across the aisle. And she voted against Nancy Pelosi twice for Speaker,” said former Rep. Matt SalmonMatthew (Matt) James SalmonThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Former Rep. Matt Salmon launches gubernatorial bid in Arizona On The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP MORE (R-Ariz.), whom conservative groups have unsuccessfully tried to recruit to challenge Flake in a primary.  

“I think she will be a formidable challenger to whoever she runs against,” Salmon said.

Spokespeople for Sinema, Stanton and Schumer all declined to comment for this story. Schumer’s blessing essentially clears the path for Sinema and means she would have access to staffing and other resources from the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Schumer once led.

Stanton, who is in his second term as Phoenix mayor, is also eyeing Sinema’s House seat. But because hers is a swing-district seat, candidates from both parties will be lining up to run.