Arizona was one of the Senate races that the Democrats were hoping to flip this coming November. Democrat candidate Rep. Krysten Sinema has been able to keep up with Republican nominee Rep. Martha McSally in the race for the seat of the retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. A RealClearPolitics polling average shows McSally up by a mere 0.3 percentage points.

That should be increasing in the coming weeks, all thanks to a very telling flyer from 15 years ago.

“As an anti-war activist in the early 2000s, Arizona Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema led a group that distributed flyers depicting an American soldier as a skeleton inflicting ‘U.S. terror’ in Iraq and the Middle East,” CNN reported.

“The flyers could become an issue for Sinema, the Democratic nominee challenging Republican Martha McSally in one of the most competitive US Senate races this year. CNN rates the race as a toss-up.”

Sinema’s past activism has already become an issue in the campaign.

“McSally has previously attacked Sinema’s anti-war past and accused Sinema of ‘denigrating’ the service of the US armed forces in her protests of the Iraq War. Sinema’s campaign has denied those charges and said that while Sinema opposed US intervention in Iraq, she always supported servicemembers,” CNN reported.

However, the flyers seem to tell a different story. Accessed through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, one from February 2003 contains the offending cartoon along with the text, “You can help us push back U.S. terror in Iraq and the Middle East.” The flyer was from Local to Global Justice, an anti-war group co-founded by Sinema.

The cartoon shows “a group of protestors striving to halt the progress of three skeletons, one dressed as a soldier, another dressed in a top hat holding a dollar bill and another dressed in a suit.” Sinema is listed as an event contact and the contact information for a local anarchist group that participated is also included.

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A second flyer included exhortations to fight “against Bush and his fascist, imperialist war” and mentioned that “Government is slavery” and that “Its laws are cobwebs for the rich and chains of steel for the poor.”

A third flyer featured the Michael Moore-worthy slogan, “Stop the OILigarchy.” The candidate was also listed as a contact for a sign-making event before the rally. According to CNN, the flyer highlighted previous signs with slogans like “Born to Kill, Born to Drill,” “My President Is A Psychopath,” “No Oilgarchy,” “We Burn Stuff (Written on an American Flag)” and “Who Elected this F—–?” as examples of their placard-making prowess.

Sinema spoke at the rally, telling the audience to “let peace rule.” She continued her anti-war activism, telling a local radio station that “this is not about the United States doing the right and moral thing by a toppling an evil dictator.”

“This is more about the United States having access to the oil and the power and control and world stature that it’s seeking. It’s not about the individuals in Iraq,” she said.

The news of the flyers caused a stir on social media.

If Sinema were putting herself forward as a radical Bernie-ista type, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. The thing is that in Congress, she’s tried to put herself forward as a moderate. She’s one of 18 Democrats that are part of the purportedly moderate Blue Dog Coalition (stop trying to make “Blue Dog Democrat” happen. It’s not going to happen) and would stand little chance of winning a statewide race if she were really an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clone.

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Sinema’s people tried to dismiss the flyers as irrelevant and the issue settled, which is probably the least effective way to go about making this go away.

“Kyrsten comes from a military family and is very proud of her record supporting Arizona’s servicemembers, veterans, and their families,” an email from Sinema campaign spokeswoman Helen Hare to CNN read.

“Attacks on Kyrsten’s respect for those who serve have already been called out as false, and Kyrsten is going to stay focused on the issues that matter most to Arizonans — like making sure Congresswoman McSally and her allies can’t roll back protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.”

Yes, her disrespect for the troops has “already been called out as false.” In other words, every new piece of evidence that her anti-war activism wasn’t of the “respect the troops, but respectfully disagree” variety has been pre-emptively been addressed.

The fact that her name and imprimatur were on a flyer depicting an American soldier as a skeleton is totally impertinent to the debate because she’s “from a military family and is very proud of her record supporting Arizona’s servicemembers.”

This is about as obvious of a deflection as you can get in a political race, and I’ve seen plenty. It doesn’t even address the specific flyers. Her spokeswoman just recites campaign bromides that have been in use since Calvin Coolidge’s time and expects everything to go away. Oh, and stuff about pre-existing conditions, which isn’t so much a red herring so much as a fish market devoted entirely to the sale of red herring.

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Krysten Sinema has a lot of explaining to do. Her spokeswoman didn’t do her any favors.

Now, it’s time to hear some actual explanation about how she squares this with her purported “respect for those who serve.”

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