PHOENIX — Leaders of the Arizona Democratic Party voted Saturday to censure U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, citing “her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy” — namely her refusal to go along with fellow Democrats to alter a Senate rule so they could overcome Republican opposition to the party’s bill to federalize elections.
The moves offer a preview of the persistent opposition Sinema will likely face within her own party in the two years before she next appears on a ballot. The independent streak that has given her tremendous leverage over the agenda in Washington has enraged many Democrats back home who are intent on preventing her re-election.
“Any reservoir of goodwill that she had is gone,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat who may challenge Sinema from the left.
Sinema’s defenders say nobody who’s watched her for the past decade should be surprised by her position. She often bucked her party in the House, ran an aggressively moderate campaign for Senate and has never wavered in her support for upholding the filibuster.
“During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party,” Hannah Hurley, Sinema’s spokesperson, said in a statement before the censure vote. “She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”Sinema supports the Democrats’ legislation but steadfastly opposes passing it by changing or eliminating the Senate’s filibuster rule, which effectively requires 60 of 100 votes to pass most legislation.
Sinema’s fight with the left has overshadowed the 2022 re-election bid of Mark Kelly, Arizona’s other Democratic senator.
With Sinema taking most of the attention, Kelly managed to avoid taking a position on the filibuster throughout his 2020 campaign and his first year in office. Hours before he had to vote, Kelly came out in favor of a one-time workaround to pass the voting rights bill.