UPDATE: Sinema will now be making her first trip to the UK to visit Westminster and Manchester on Friday.

You might have missed it but Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat who would be the first openly bisexual person elected to the US Senate, won the Democratic primary in Arizona on Tuesday.

Until this year, her campaign was largely unknown, her fundraising was modest and she had a fraction of the support she’ll soon receive from the national party. But after her win, it’s already being described as a turning point for the Democratic Party and Republicans as they look to hold the Senate in November.

Sinema, who will be trying to unseat Republican Jeff Flake, isn’t new to political wariness. Just 15 years ago, she left behind a comfortable life working as a reporter in the conservative Phoenix area to fight sexual assault and to help women who had been the victims of domestic violence.

She was first elected to the Arizona legislature in 2006, when she was just 25. She quickly gained a reputation as a skilled politician, impeccably blending a moderate voice in a conservative legislature. In the 2010 and 2014 elections, she had more high-profile backers – John McCain, Arizona’s other Republican senator, endorsed her for senate – but she also ran hard and was considered a strong challenger to Flake.

Throughout her career, she earned kudos from other Democratic women – such as Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. – and earned the reputation of one of Congress’s most progressive members.

At a campaign event, Sinema stood up in a Congressional conference room and gave a passionate speech about the possibility of decriminalising abortion in the state. She also gave her first major speeches on income inequality and equal pay, though it was hard to decipher what she was proposing because she gave two completely different answers on both issues.

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