Phoenix, AZ – The Arizona State Troopers Association has withdrawn its endorsement of United States Representative Kyrsten Sinema, after members of the union argued that the executive board opted to back her without the support of rank-and-file officers.
Sinema, a Democrat, is running against U.S. Representative Martha McSally in a heated race for the U.S. Senate seat, The Arizona Republic reported.
“There’s a range of emotions from outright anger. There are members resigning after decades of membership over this,” retired Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Sergeant Michael Stouffer, a 40-year member of the union, told KTVK.
“It seems quite clear that our board of directors was either naïve or either overlooked the opportunity to assess the sensitivity and importance of this particular election and how it might be perceived by the membership,” Sgt. Stouffer added.
In 2006, Sinema declared that illegal immigrants who die while trying to breach the U.S. border are no different than soldiers who gave their lives during the Iraq War, Fox News reported.
Photos of her protesting the war while wearing a pink tutu have surfaced during the campaign, as well as a 2003 audio clip where Sinema said she would not care if Americans opted to join the Taliban, ABC News reported.
Sinema had touted the union’s endorsement in a campaign ad that focused on her views regarding border issues and law enforcement, The Arizona Republic reported.
But as the voices of the dissenting members of the Arizona State Troopers Association grew louder, the association finally emailed a poll to determine whether the members wanted to stand behind the endorsement of Sinema.
On Oct. 22, the association notified members that they would not be endorsing either candidate.
“Due to the divisive nature of the race, the membership has stated a preference to stay neutral,” Arizona State Troopers Association President Jimmy Chavez said, according to KTVK.
“All members are encouraged to vote for the candidate they personally support. AZ Troopers will not be endorsing any candidate for U.S. Senate and will refrain from any further statements concerning the race,” Chavez said.
Sinema’s campaign spokeswoman, Helen Hare, said that the campaign ad related to the endorsement has “ran its full course” and will no longer be aired due to a “traffic change.”
Hare said the fact that the ad would no longer run was “completely unrelated to the AZ Troopers Association’s discussions.”
“We respect the association’s decision to remain neutral given the divisive tone of the race and appreciate their support for Kyrsten’s past three elections, as well as continued support from members and law enforcement officers across the state,” Hare added.