Kyrsten Sinema, Tolerated By Republicans, Loathed By Everyone Else!
That’s not a path to electoral success.
The Arizona Democratic Party censured Kyrsten Sinema Saturday, after a week during which the Senate’s most useless Democrat lost the support of Emily’s List and the abortion rights group NARAL. It’s the price you pay when you help kill democracy.
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Sinema might think this helps build her bargain brand as an “independent voice.” She’s not the only one to get censured, after all. The Arizona GOP censured Cindy McCain, Governor Doug Ducey, and Sinema’s predecessor Jeff Flake because they weren’t suitably loyal to Donald Trump, and across the nation, state Republicans have censured Congress members who voted to impeach Trump or stood up against his Big Lie. Those are censures that you can legitimately wear as a badge of honor. Sinema’s wardrobe is famously quirky but a censure for helping Republicans block voting rights legislation is not an ideal accessory.
Sinema’s supposed hero John McCain was censured in 2014 and handily won his primary anyway. He was considered to have a “liberal” voting record, which is what you believe when you have never seen an actual liberal’s voting record. Former three-term GOP Senator Jon Kyl dismissed McCain’s censure as “wacky” and defended his conservative credentials. No long-term Democrats are stepping forward to defend Sinema because having met her, they really don’t seem to like her. The party is collectively Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand when she applauded Donald Trump during his 2020 State of Union address.
McCain bucked his party and gave his famous thumbs down to keep millions from losing their health care. Sinema copied that move when voting against a minimum wage increase, which is slightly different.
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McCain was otherwise loyal to the GOP. He supported the tax scam that the party passed through reconciliation without a single Democratic vote. He also agreed to kill the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, paving the way for Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. We still don’t know if Sinema would've eventually voted for Build Back Better but she killed it with inches before Manchin dumped it in the river. She's definitely screwed President Joe Biden far more than McCain did Trump. If Sinema were truly our McCain, she’d give a few speeches criticizing Biden but we’d have passed voting rights by now and possibly BBB.
More conservative Republicans might’ve disliked McCain but they still respected him and his service to the nation. Someone on Sinema’s staff should remind her during strategy meetings that she’s not a war hero. There’s no noble backstory to salvage her sinking poll numbers.
Civiqs' tracking had her with eight percent approval among Arizona Democrats, and that was before she helped tank voting rights legislation. To put this in perspective, eight percent of Democrats voted for Ted Cruz in 2018’s Texas Senate race. As a baseline, a successful Democratic politician should probably have greater support from Democrats than Ted Cruz.
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Beto O’Rourke was just two agonizing percentage points away from sending Cruz home to Cancun, but even after Cruz’s Mexican Riviera fiasco, 76 percent of Republicans still supported him. That was considered low because we expect a sitting senator to have overwhelming support from their party if they want to stay in office.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo dismissed the idea that Sinema would run in 2024 as an independent like Joe Lieberman in 2006 and Lisa Murkowski in 2010. For one thing, only 27 percent of actual Arizona independent voters have a favorable opinion of her. Also, Lieberman and Murkowski were the best that the opposing party could hope for in their states. There are still more Republicans than Democrats in Arizona, and even a MAGA extremist has a better than average chance against a turncoat Democratic incumbent. It’s not like she can switch parties, either. She’s pro-choice and voted to impeach Trump twice. Republicans might appreciate that she’s useless but they don’t want her officially on their side. It’s like the Empire making C-3PO a stormtrooper.
Sinema’s current favorable rating among Republicans is just 47 percent. She’s just less popular than Cruz all around, and that’s not good for anyone. Rep. Ruben Gallego either wins a primary challenge against Sinema in 2024 or Democrats will lose that seat. Senator Gallego has a nice ring to it.
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