Arizona Democrats Abandon Disgraced Senator Kyrsten Sinema

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Arizona Democrats are growing increasingly fed up with the actions of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who has expressed opposition to a $3.5 trillion spending package currently being pushed by Democratic leaders. The money would go towards what’s been described as “human infrastructure,” meaning a broad range of social support programs like child care and care for elderly people. Broadly, Sinema has also infamously stuck to her support for the Senate’s filibuster rules, which demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber ahead of moving forward on most bills. Now, Democrats are uniting to back a primary challenge to Sinema.

She’s not up for re-election until 2024, but concerned Arizona Democrats are getting started now. As summarized by NBC, a “group of Arizona Democrats backed by a network of deep-pocketed donors is laying the groundwork for a primary challenge to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, organizers said.” This group is operating as the Primary Sinema PAC, which “does not plan to support a particular primary challenger,” but will instead “fund local groups to pressure Sinema and help build the support and infrastructure for an eventual candidate,” NBC explains. Some funding for the Primary Sinema PAC has come so far from a national progressive advocacy group called Way to Win.

Sinema’s support for the Senate’s filibuster rules alone has already proven to be a problem for top Democrats. The provisions mean that most successful bills must be at least nominally bipartisan, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) isn’t exactly known for being inclined towards bipartisanship. As Alex Gomez and Tomas Robles, who serve as the co-executive directors of the group Living United for Change in Arizona, put it, expressing their frustrations with Sinema:

‘We fought tirelessly to elect Kyrsten Sinema in 2018… Sinema has proven time and time again that she doesn’t share these values, so it’s time to organize and replace her with someone who does.’

Luis Avila, a progressive organizer in Arizona who’s supporting the new PAC, added that there “is still time for Senator Sinema to change course. But if she does not, there will be consequences for her betrayal of the people who elected her.” In a recent survey, merely 56 percent of Arizona Democrats — Democrats, not Arizonans in general — indicated that they viewed Sinema favorably. In contrast, Arizona’s other Senator — Democrat Mark Kelly — was viewed favorably by 80 percent of Democrats in the same survey. Kelly has expressed support for changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules. The low level of support for Sinema compared to Kelly suggests that Arizona Democrats might be receptive to a candidate taking her on in the upcoming Democratic Senatorial primary race.