Senator Kyrsten Sinema officially censored by the Arizona Democratic Party
The Arizona Democratic Party’s executive committee formally censured Senator Kyrsten Sinema on Saturday morning over her inaction on changing filibuster rules to pass voting rights reform.
“…on the issue of filibuster and the urgency of protecting the right to vote, we have been crystal clear. In the choice between an archaic legislative standard and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will,” President Raquel Teran said in a statement.
“While we take no pleasure in this announcement, the ADP Board of Directors has decided to formally censure Senator Sinema due to her failure to do all that is necessary to ensure the health of our democracy. “
Sinema is facing renewed heat from those who helped her elect her after she and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia this week were the only two Democrats to vote against state reform. filibuster, thereby derailing the passage of suffrage legislation.
The narrow Democratic majority in the Senate meant filibuster reform was seen as crucial to passing the John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act – a top priority for Democrats and President Joe Biden.
Arizona Democrats organized strongly to elect Sinema to the Senate – she once served in the US House – earning her a narrow victory. They lobbied Sinema for months to change his stance on the filibuster, but many couldn’t get a meeting with the senator.
With his refusal to change the filibuster rule – on the Republican side – and voting rights dead for now in the Senate, Arizona Democrats are raising money to back Sinema’s 2024 main challenger. Influential independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said this week that he would support a challenge to Sinema.
Over the summer, the Arizona Democratic Party promised to give Sinema a vote of “no confidence” if she did not change her position to pave the way for voting reform. They blamed her Saturday morning.
“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue — the duty to protect our most basic right to vote is one we all share,” Arizona Democratic Party Chairperson Raquel Teran said in a statement. “We counted on Senator Sinema to fight for Arizona, find a way forward and protect our democracy, but on this issue she has failed. Right now Arizona is ground zero. for the modern struggle for the right to vote, and we have no time to waste.”
The Grand Canyon state is a hot spot for Republican-led changes to the vote. After the 2020 election, the state Senate ordered a partisan review of millions of state ballots, which took place while the Republican-controlled state legislature focused on restrictive ballot bills. Republicans have all but eliminated the state’s permanent early voting list, which means ballots are no longer automatically sent to voters who haven’t used the system. The bills were the cornerstone of GOP lawmaking in 2021, and the 2022 session continues to focus on electoral reform.
Activists and voters domestically point to those Republican-led efforts as the backdrop to Sinema’s refusal to budge.
Sinema lost a major endorsement this week from Emily’s List, a major political organization that funds campaigns it endorses, including those supporting abortion rights.
A coalition of groups — made up of state Democrats — wrote to the group asking for action on the issue. Prior to the vote, Emily’s List announced that they would no longer support Sinema unless they changed their position.
“If Senator Sinema cannot support a path forward for the passage of this legislation, we believe she is undermining the foundations of our democracy, her own path to victory and also the mission of EMILY’s List, and we will not be able to approve her move forward,” Emily’s List President Laphonza Butler said in a statement.
These same activists have written to other major political donor groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, which focuses on LGBTQ+ issues.
Groups looking to fund a main challenger have raised at least $455,000. Two groups have yet to choose a candidate, but other Democrats are pressing Rep. Ruben Gallego to challenge Sinema. A political action committee, dubbed “Run Ruben Run”, will funnel money in his direction if he chooses to participate in the race.
Gallego hasn’t ruled out a run for Sinema’s seat, and he tweeted a veiled warning after Senate votes failed this week.
“I’m disappointed in the Senate’s failure to advance the John Lewis Suffrage Act. But I’m not giving up and neither should you. Let’s work hard to elect good Democrats who support suffrage. and defeat those who don’t – in 22 years and beyond,” Gallego tweeted.
The congressman also told CNN his phone rang with demands that he intervene against Sinema, saying there was “a lot of frustration about a lot of things that happened in the past with the Senator Sinema, and that kind of was the breaking point.”
Democrats swear the fight to consolidate voting rights in the country is not over, but that fight will now continue for some with a focus on replacing Sinema.
“Millions of Democrats and pro-democracy independents are furious with Sinema,” a fundraising group wrote in a message after Wednesday’s vote. “Give them a chance to do something with this anger that can help turn the tide. This fight is not over. But together we will ensure that Kyrsten Sinema’s career as the chosen one ends this evening.”