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Kyrsten Sinema in, GOP honchos hyperventilate

AZ Central: Kyrsten Sinema in, GOP honchos hyperventilate

By Laurie Roberts

Arizona Republican Party honchos must be breathing into paper bags today.

With Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema officially entering the race for U.S. Senate, they’ve got to be hyperventilating at the increasingly real prospect of losing a Senate seat to Democrats for the first time in three decades.

If Sen. Jeff Flake wins the GOP primary, the race will be one for the ages, between two seasoned politicians who can raise a ton of money to get their messages across.

But that’s assuming Flake gets that far.

Polls show that Republican primary challenger Kelli Ward is way ahead of Flake, a guy who has not endeared himself to the base with his frequent criticisms of President Donald Trump and his prior push for immigration reform.

The problem for the GOP is this: the hard-right Ward may win the primary. But she has absolutely no chance of winning a statewide election against Minnie Mouse much less Krysten Sinema.

Is there a viable GOP alternative?

There has been talk of finding a more viable Republican candidate to run against Flake. Trump, when he was in Phoenix last month, met privately with state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state GOP Chairman Robert Graham and urged them to figure out who would run.

But neither has announced, and 2018 is charging ever closer.

Rep. Trent Franks is known to covet a Senate seat, and he’s been far more visible in recent months than, well, ever. But Franks has said he’s not running either.

Which leaves Republican honchos … panicking, I would guess.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Sinema raise some funds to help Ward, who just might turn out to be the Democrats' secret weapon.

Meanwhile, look for Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to stake an early claim to Sinema’s seat, along with a cast of thousands, no doubt.

Let the musical chairs begin