“She’s very engaging, she’s very bright, she’s very frank,” said Jonathan Rothschild, a Democrat and former mayor of Tucson. “Every time I have been with her, she has that ability to make you feel you are one of the most important people in the world.”
She has also refrained from litigating differences with colleagues in public, an attribute that has won her adoration from members of the other party.
Matt Salmon, a conservative former Republican congressman from Arizona, said his relationship with Ms. Sinema reached an inflection point during a particularly fraught period of his political career, after he initially expressed reluctance to endorse marriage equality after his son came out as gay.
When a local reporter asked Ms. Sinema, who is bisexual and had long lobbied for marriage equality, for her reaction, Mr. Salmon braced himself for the worst. Instead, he recalled, Ms. Sinema responded that she knew how much he loved his son.
“From that moment on, I probably would have walked on hot coals for her,” Mr. Salmon said, growing emotional. “She had an opportunity to slice my throat and let me bleed to death politically.”
“Everybody expects that when somebody has the position she has, it goes without saying you’re going to exploit the heck out of that,” he continued. “But she doesn’t do that, and it adds to her strength.”
Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.