I don't know Manchin personally. I do know Sinema-- from before she was even elected to the House and well enough to know that she's certifiably insane and an extremely dangerous politician. She could well go down in history as Chuck Schumer's worst move ever, since he handpicked her and cleared the field for her Senate run, delighted that she had the most Republican voting record of any Democrat in the House. Now she and Manchin and neck and neck as the worst Democraps in the Senate.
This morning, The Hill's Reid Wilson made a case for just how horrible she is and how toxic for the Democratic Party brand. After all, she's the Democratic Party's highest-ranking Democratic elected official in Arizona and young progressives thinking about registering to vote could easily be dissuaded from registering as a Democrat because of her-- while young conservatives may think: YES!
"Progressive groups in Arizona, fresh off Democratic wins over the last two cycles that represent a new high-water mark after a generation of Republican control," wrote Reid, "are exerting pressure on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, one of the few Democrats who have maintained a steadfast opposition to reforming or removing the filibuster. 'As long as the filibuster is in place, it’s going to be impossible to see progress on voting rights, on immigration, on so many topics that affect people in Arizona,' said Emily Kirkland, who heads Progress Arizona, the group responsible for projecting anti-filibuster messages on buildings and monuments in Phoenix, Tempe and Tucson in recent months. 'We’re really just trying to send a message to her that this is the way to cement the direction that Arizona has gone in, is by passing commonsense policies.' So far, Sinema is unmoved. Earlier this month, she told the Wall Street Journal she remained opposed to 'erod[ing] the rules.'"
Some progressive activists are considering not just primarying her, but running a third party or independent candidate against her from the left in the 2024 general, just to defeat her even if it leads to a Republican victory! Yes, she's that bad.
Redi continued that "Fred Yamashita, a Sinema ally who heads the Arizona AFL-CIO, said he had brought up the filibuster with Sinema in a recent conversation. 'She was again pretty clear on her position on the filibuster. I expressed our concern that so many of the important bills after this last relief package were going to take the filibuster or a different version of the filibuster in order to pass,' Yamashita said. 'She has been there with and for labor, both as a member of the House and the Senate, so I do feel that there’s always that opportunity that she will end up coming down on the side of labor.'" Yamashita was either drunk or stupid. Sinema has been an enemy of working families and the labor movement in both the House, where she chaired the Blue Dog caucus, and in the Senate, where just weeks ago she helped tank the $15 minimum wage and voted with the Republicans against it. An Arizona Democrat in the legislature told me Yamashita "will do anything to stay in her good graces" [and that] there are "no other Democrats in Congress worse than Sinema when it comes to the interests of the working class... The filibuster is just one of dozens of issues where she's more Republican than Democrat." Many Democrats wonder when she will switch parties.
Progress Arizona and the AFL-CIO are among more than 40 organizations that signed on to a letter earlier this year urging Sinema to change Senate rules.
But Sinema, who got her start in politics as a progressive anti-war activist, has positioned herself as an atypical Democrat, one who demonstrates little interest in appeasing progressives who might otherwise be her best allies.
“Her brand is to be the centrist person who works with both sides to get stuff done that helps Arizona families,” said one longtime adviser.
A rising cadre of Democratic leaders in the state legislature are just as likely to voice their frustration with the first Democrat to win an Arizona Senate seat since Dennis DeConcini in 1988 than they are to praise her.
“She’s been hit pretty hard in our local press for standing with the filibuster instead of standing in support of our democracy and protecting voting rights,” said state Rep. Athena Salman (D), a leading progressive member of the state House.
More recently, Arizona progressives were enraged when Sinema voted against an amendment to the most recent coronavirus relief package that would have raised the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“There is definitely groups that have been frustrated with some of her actions, if not votes,” Yamashita said. “Obviously the vote to not include the $15 an hour minimum wage in the relief package was disappointing to many.”
Sinema was one of eight Democrats to vote against the minimum wage hike, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). In a written statement at the time, Sinema-- who experienced homelessness as a child-- said raising the wage should be separate from a coronavirus relief package.
Sinema has explored working with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) to raise the federal minimum wage to $11 an hour, which is still below Arizona’s $12.15 an hour wage.
Progressive groups say they have not given up hope of bringing Sinema around to their side. Yamashita said union members are contacting her offices, especially on the PRO Act, a top priority for organized labor that would likely need a revision to the filibuster to pass. Indivisible, another progressive group, is mounting its own call-in campaign.
“So far there has been no indication that she has been adjusting her stance on the filibuster,” Kirkland said. “Why prioritize that kind of rule over actually making a difference in people’s lives?”
Eva Puzova, head of Catch Fire and a former member of the Flagstaff city council was part of the group that put up a light show directed at Sinema in Flagstaff. She sent me this snap from the even today and told me that "Ending the filibuster is the top priority for progressives in Arizona. On behalf of the Catch Fire Movement, I've been organizing with other progressive organizations and activists to push Senator Sinema towards backing the Senate rule change. We joined Phoenix and Tucson projecting messages on the city hall in Flagstaff in mid-April, explaining how the rule is connected to every major issue, including the federal minimum wage and immigration. So far, our collective efforts didn't move the Senator at all. While the coalition work continues, Catch Fire will also start actively seeking progressive leaders to join our Blaze the Trail program with a goal to be prepared to run for the Senate seat in 2024 and replace Sinema. It's unfortunate that the Senator is using her lived experience and identity for her political advancement when conveni atta'ent and yet works against the very same communities she came from."