Kyrsten Sinema’s Family: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten Sinema is vying to replace Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, and if elected, she will become the first openly bisexual person to be voted into the U.S. Senate and the second openly LGBT person to ever serve in the senate.

According to FOX News, Arizona’s Senate battle remains one of the tightest races on the map, with Sinema and Republican nominee Martha McSally trading the lead in the final stretch of polling. All of this has some people wondering more about the family of Kyrsten Sinema, and whether she’s ever been married.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Her Father Dan Sinema, Sr. Was an Arizona Attorney

According to AZ Central, Sinema’s father Dan Sinema, Sr. was an attorney. The family lived in a five-bedroom ranch house at the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the 1970s, but ran into financial difficulties when her father lost his job. Sinema blames her father’s layoff on the 1980s recession, and state records show that he was also fighting complaints from legal clients, censure by the State Bar of Arizona, IRS debts and a real estate deal gone bad.

The family’s car was repossessed, and their house would briefly go into foreclosure. Sinema’s mother and father eventually got divorced in 1983, and within a few years, he would file for bankruptcy. He would eventually remarry, gaining three stepchildren and another child of his own.

Speaking on the free lunch program in schools, Sinema told the press that she was one of the many children who were thankful for it. “I was one of the kids who benefited from that program because we were very poor,” she said. “I would spend my summers at elementary schools eating free breakfast and free lunch.”

2. Her Mother Marilyn Was a Housewife Who Moved the Family to Florida

After her divorce, Sinema’s mother Marilyn and her children left Arizona. She told AZ Central that the move increased the tension between her parents, particularly when it came to child support, custody rights, and Marilyn’s marriage to a Tucson school teacher named Andy Howard. After the family moved to Florida, however, they struggled to find work. Marilyn briefly worked as an aerobics instructor, and it took Howard the better part of a year to land a part-time gig at a junior college.

“We are unable to provide adequately for the children and are presently receiving welfare from the church through the Bishop’s storehouse,” Howard wrote to the local court. “The Howard’s (sic) have had to utilize every penny Mr. Sinema has sent to continue living and at that less than adequate.” Marilyn later sent the court a list of her monthly finances, where it states that she had $13.69 in the bank.

“Kyrsten is right about this challenging time in our lives,” Marilyn explained. “After we married, we left Tucson with the anticipation of a job in Florida which did not materialize. With no source of income, we lived in Andy’s parents’ closed country gas station without electricity, bathroom facilities or running water.”

“With the assistance of family, friends and our church, we overcame the trials that we faced and moved into a farmhouse less than three years later,” she added. “It upsets us that Kyrsten has fought to become successful, utilizing the skills she developed because of these challenges, only to have people question it now.”

3. Her Brother Paul Sheldon Is a Tucson Policeman Who Has Appeared In Her Campaign Videos

Sinema’s aunt Sandy Wiley spoke to AZCentral about the struggles that Sinema and her siblings faced growing up. “I remember the gas station Kyrsten was in during this time in her life and, unfortunately, she’s right about the way she describes it,” she said. “This was a very difficult, very painful time for our family. I am so proud of her: she never let this challenge hold her back. Instead, it drove her to help others who are struggling.”

Sinema’s older brother Paul Sheldon is a former Marine and has been a Tucson police officer for almost 20 years. He appeared in the first TV ad for Sinema’s campaign, emphasizing her longstanding support of veterans and law enforcement. “We used to fight like cats and dogs as kids,” Sheldon says in the video. “She fights for us veterans and is a friend to law enforcement, and that’s why she’s running for senate.” Watch the full clip above.

On May 29, 2018, Sinema tweeted out a quote from Sheldon that read: “I’m honored to be with my sister, Kyrsten, as she gets her name on the ballot for the U.S. Senate. Kyrsten has spent her career making sure everyone gets their shot at the American Dream.”

Sinema also has a sister and a younger brother named Sterling. On January 3, 2014, she tweeted out a photo of her and Sterling with the caption: “Proud sis moment – my bro Sterling named Expeditionary Strike Group Two Sailor of the Year! (That’s a big deal).” She also tweeted about Sterling on November 9 of that year, writing: “My little brother Sterling, Sailor of the Year! This pic is from my swearing in day Jan 3, 2013, his bday.”

4. She Reportedly Married & Divorced a BYU Student Named Blake Dain

AZCentral reports that Sinema married a man named Blake Dain while they were both attending Brigham Young University. Dain has never spoken publicly on these allegations, or when they divorced. After Sinema graduated from BYU, she moved to Phoenix area to join her aunt doing social work in low-income schools. She now identifies as bisexual.

After a Republican colleague’s speech insulted LGBT people in 2005, Sinema stated: “We’re simply people like everyone else who want and deserve respect.” When reporters asked about her to clarify her statement, Sinema added: “Duh, I’m bisexual.” She also told Elle Magazine that she’s “always been out” to her friends and family.

In 2006, Sinema elicited controversy for her comments regarding marriage and stay-at-home wives. “These women who act like staying at home, leeching off their husbands or boyfriends, and just cashing the checks is some sort of feminism because they’re choosing to live that life,” she told the nightlife magazine 944. “That’s bullsh*t. I mean, what the f*ck are we really talking about here?”

5. She Credits Her Parents With Instilling Her Strong Work Ethic

“You think about the traditional conservative narrative, ‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ and the … liberal message, ‘Help those in need and have a safety net.’ But the reality is it’s a combination of those two,” Sinema told The Arizona Republic. “That’s what shaped my life — working hard and getting the help that I needed.”

“I was homeless when I was a kid,” she added. “But I got my shot at college, I got a job, and I stand before you today… See, my parents taught me if you work really hard you can make it.” Roc Arnett, a former president of the East Valley Partnership, confirmed the influence that Sinema’s upbringing had on her current political aspirations. “She lived in an old, worn-out gas station for a number of years with no running water and no other things,” he explained to AZCentral. “It has helped craft her into the person she is today.”

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