POLITICO Playbook: Sinema wants ‘to be the next John McCain’

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s commanding the spotlight not only as a rare swing vote in a hyperpartisan Congress but as a lead negotiator on an infrastructure deal that could determine the success of President Joe Biden’s first term. / Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

By Tara Palmeri

EMULATING MCCAIN — KYRSTEN SINEMA’S advisers heard it constantly from her during her 2018 campaign for Senate: “I want to be the next JOHN MCCAIN.”

After she won, Sinema called the late senator a “legend” and “my personal hero.” This year, when she voted against a minimum wage hike, she rankled the left by mimicking McCain’s iconic thumbs-down that tanked the GOP’s effort to kill Obamacare.

Now Sinema’s commanding the spotlight not only as a rare swing vote in a hyperpartisan Congress but as a lead negotiator on an infrastructure deal that could determine the success of President JOE BIDEN’S first term. If she pulls it off, she will establish herself, like McCain, as a legislative force inside the Senate.

McCain is obviously a singular figure who spent decades building his stature in the chamber. But Sinema’s current and former colleagues say the two do share some traits: She doesn’t like to be told what to do. She’s also unafraid to buck her party, and at times seems to relish it.

— WHAT MEGHAN SAYS: We asked McCain’s daughter what she thought of the comparison.

“I do believe when she makes decisions she thinks about what [John McCain] would do, which is both surprising and nice and interesting — and not what I expected from her at all,” MEGHAN MCCAIN said.

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