WASHINGTON — The Green Party candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in Arizona withdrew from the contest and endorsed the Democratic nominee, adding more uncertainty to one of the most-watched and key races in the country.
Angela Green said Thursday that she is quitting the race — four days before voters go to the polls — and endorsing Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic nominee. She told her supporters “to vote for a better Arizona, and that would be for Sinema,” she said on KPNX TV in Phoenix.
Polls on the open race argue with each other but most have the Republican nominee, Rep. Martha McSally, leading Sinema by up to 6 percent points.
It is unclear what impact Green’s late withdrawal will have. She was drawing about 6 percent of support in some polls but a poll released Thursday found support had dropped to 1 percent. Her name will remain on Tuesday’s ballot. An estimated 60 percent of all votes have already been cast by mail-in ballot, according to news reports.
The winner will succeed Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who did not seek reelection.
A Democratic win in Arizona is critical for the party if it hopes to staunch expected other losses in a handful of close Senate contests, analysts said.
Democrats have been flumoxed more than Republicans by third-party candidates, especially Green Party nominees. Many in the party remain furious at 2000 Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader, whom they charge with drawing votes from Democrat Al Gore and costing him the election to George W. Bush. There is similar furor at 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein.
In this election cycle, Democrats were concerned when former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson became the Libertarian nominee for Senate. However, despite his popularity in his home state, Johnson is running third behind incumbent Democratic incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich and Republican candidate Mick Rich, an Albuquerque-based construction contractor.
Republican Senate nominees are not facing any third-party snags. Their one big concern was in West Virginia, where Democratic first-term incumbent Joe Manchin is facing a rough challenge from state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Ex-convict and former coal baron Don Blankenship sought to be the Senate nominee of the Constitution Party — which would draw votes from the GOP candidate and help Manchin. He was blocked by the courts under the state’s sore loser law, since he failed to first win the Republican nomination.