In a statement defending/ explaining her vote, Sinema slyly says, "I was a principled opponent of the Iraq War and spoke out early against the U.S. invasion." One must wonder if she considers some opponents unprincipled. But the more important fact was that back then she was a recent Green Party candidate for Phoenix City Council.
Since then, she climbed the ladder to the Legislature and then Congress as a Democrat. She frequently alienated the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, such as when, serving in the state Senate, she called the odious Russell Pearce, "my president." He was president of the Senate, but "my president"?
On the Iran vote, Blog for Arizona commented, "Sinema’s excuses for opposition are on matters entirely outside of the negotiated nuclear agreement, and thus not on the merits of the actual agreement itself. Like every Tea-Publican, Sinema wants total capitulation by Iran, something Iran would never agree to in a negotiation. This is a ridiculous expectation."
There is a long history of conservative Democrats in Arizona — they were called "pintos." But this breed died out by the 1970s.
How conservative is Sinema? Her Heritage Action Scorecard is 19 percent (voting with the right), vs. 92 percent for Rep. Paul Gosar and 88 percent for Rep. Trent Franks, both Republicans. The American Conservative Union's venerable ratings gave her a 24 after one year in office, in 2013. These were generally in line with other Democrats in the state delegation.
The liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) named Rep. Raul Grijalva one of its nine "heroes" in the House for 2014. He voted 100 percent with liberals. (Be aware that the GOP has successfully shifted the "center" so far to the right, that today's "liberals" are often yesterday's Jerry Ford centrists).
Sinema rated only 40 percent according to the ADA, which has been doing these assessments since 1947 (and held a staunch anti-communist in the Cold War). It was the lowest among Democrats in the state's delegation. It was also 10 percentage points below her voting record for 2013.
Her 9th congressional district is purple, at best. It includes part of north-central Phoenix, Arcadia, Tempe, west Mesa, Ahwatukee, Guadalupe, and slices of Chandler and Gilbert. That's a lot of right-wing voters — and they vote. A House member is elected to represent the views of her constituents where the issue doesn't conflict with her principles or judgment (in which case, she will face those voters every two years).
Thus, one could argue that Sinema is doing her job. But she's also surviving and thriving in the reality of Arizona politics, where the Kookocracy rules and the Democratic Party is weak and in disarray. Is she also cynically triangulating? Maybe.
She's a regular guest on national television, but does she stand a chance of advancement beyond her House seat? However much liberals are mad at Sinema, she has a "D" after her name — and is a self-proclaimed bisexual and hasn't listed a religion. On the other hand, she graduated from Brigham Young University, is a Jack Mormon, and the Saints never stop trying to get back their own (n.b. Steve Benson). And the LDS has enormous, outsized sway in Arizona.
Sinema can take liberals for granted because, as the "centrist" Democratic credo goes, "they have nowhere to go." But she might consider how many made the difference in her congressional victory. And how many of the Kooks in her district will never be won over.