Democrat Kyrsten Sinema emerged as the winner in the contest for Arizona’s open US Senate seat on Monday, becoming the first openly bisexual women to be elected to the body, according to NPR.
Sinema also becomes the first woman ever elected to the US Senate in Arizona, a milestone that would have also been achieved had her Republican rival Martha McSally won the election.
She will be replacing senator Jeff Flake, who is retiring after serving one six-year term in the chamber.
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“Arizonans had a choice between two very different ways forward,” Sinema said in a victory speech Monday. “One focused on fear and party politics, and one focused on Arizona and the issues that matter to everyday families.”
“Arizona proved that there is a better way forward,” she added. “We can work with people who are different than us. We can be friends with people who are different than us. We can love and care about people who are different than us. We can keep people who are different than us safe. We can be good people who care deeply about each other even when we disagree.”
Throughout her campaign, Sinema advocated for universal and affordable health care, immigration reform, veterans issues, women’s rights, and more.
Previously, Sinema worked as a representative in the Arizona House of Representatives, and the Arizona Senate. She was elected as a member of Congress in 2013, where she has served since.
Over the years, she worked on the Affordable Care Act, championed immigration reform, passed legislature helping survivors of sexual trafficking, and boosted funding for college students.
This year’s senate race was so close that it took several days for the full count to come into view. At first, McSally held a short lead, but as the votes poured in, Sinema eventually triumphed.
Although fellow Republicans called for a recount, McSally commended Sinema on the victory in a social media message on Monday evening.
For her part, Sinema is eager to walk in the footsteps of former Arizona Senator John McCain, who died earlier this year.
“Senator John McCain stood for everything we stand for as Arizonans: fighting for what you believe in, standing up for what’s right even if you stand alone, and serving a cause greater than one’s self,” Sinema said in her victory speech.
“Sen. McCain is irreplaceable, but his example will guide our next steps forward,” she added. “He taught us to always assume the best in others, to seek compromise instead of sowing division, and to always put country ahead of party.”