Primary Challenges To Manchin & Sinema Gain Momentum

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Amid the push to get new voting rights protections passed in the Senate to respond to the suppressive new restrictions around the electoral process that Republicans around the country have recently imposed, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seemingly indicated that he would support primary challengers to Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) if they keep blocking progress. Seeing as all 50 Democrats have expressed support for the measures, the voting rights protections could ultimately pass the Senate with a simple majority, but the problem is what has to happen before getting to that point. The Senate’s filibuster rules demand that at least 60 Senators agree before proceeding with bills including these, and — for the sake of bipartisanship, among other things — Manchin and Sinema back the rules.

As reported by Business Insider, Sanders said that it’s “up to the people in those states, but it’s not just even the voting rights” when asked about Sinema and Manchin’s political futures. Directly asked whether he’d personally support primary challengers to the pair if they keep essentially blocking voting rights, he added: “Well, yeah, I would.” The original question also asked for Sanders’s perspective on other Senators who might cling to the filibuster rules, although Sinema and Manchin are definitely the ones who’ve self-confidently led the charge on that. The problem is that it’s not some vague concept of divisiveness that’s mainly to blame for problems that are currently plaguing the United States — rather, specific Republican officials are at fault, but Sinema and Manchin don’t appear to have the resolve to be honest about this.

As Sanders separately added this week:

‘What’s at stake is the future of American democracy. And the fact that all over this country, Republican governors and legislators are moving aggressively to suppress the vote and to impose extreme gerrymandering, among many other things… Anybody who believes in American democracy has got to vote to enable us to go forward with 50 votes to suspend the filibuster, at least on this vote.’

Democratic leaders were preparing a push to make members of the Republican minority have to continuously talk in order to keep the voting rights proposals from moving to a final vote, but Sinema and Manchin still appeared to not have come around as a vote on that proposed rules update approached. Even President Joe Biden has expressed support for changing the Senate’s filibuster rules in order to allow for the passage of voting rights protections. Meanwhile, support for Sinema is getting strained — Emily’s List, a pro-reproductive rights organization that backed her previous campaign, recently announced that they wouldn’t be supporting her in the future if she stood by this position on the filibuster. There’s already a political action committee working on pushing and preparing for a primary challenge to Sinema, and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) — a potential competitor — hasn’t ruled out jumping in the race.

Featured Image (edited) via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and available under a Creative Commons License