Out Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has been formally censured by the Arizona Democratic Party, the party’s executive board announced today. The board voted unanimously to issue the censure, following up on a pledge party members voted in favor of in September.
While the censure itself is just a simple reprimand on Sinema’s record, the party also decided last fall to pledge that they could withdraw support from the bisexual Senator if she runs for reelection in 2024, but prevents reform to the filibuster. They have now followed through on half of that pledge.
Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Raquel Terán said in a statement, “I want to be clear, the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements, however on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear. In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will.”
Terán cited the “ramifications of failing to pass federal legislation that protects the right to vote,” which are “too large and far-reaching,” as part of the reasoning for their decision.
She concluded, “While we take no pleasure in this announcement, the ADP Executive Board has decided to formally censure Senator Sinema as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy.”
While we take no pleasure in this announcement, the @azdemparty Executive Board has decided to formally censure Senator Sinema as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy. Read full statement: https://t.co/rxeLVdydOD
— Raquel Terán #BlackLivesMatter (@RaquelTeran) January 22, 2022
The party’s censure is just one of several forms of fall out Sinema is facing after refusing, alongside Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to reform the filibuster, a procedural maneuver historically used to prevent the passage of civil rights legislation. It is a relic of Jim Crow and is currently being used to stop voting reform, raising the minimum wage, and landmark LGBTQ civil rights legislation like the Equality Act, which protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in federal law.
With the filibuster, measures require 60 votes instead of the usual 50 to get a bill passed. With the Senate equally divided 50-50, it effectively means that any bill requires the support of at least 10 Republicans to pass. The GOP has been united in opposing any legislation supported by Democrats and stopping Biden’s agenda.
Without the opportunity to filibuster, 50 Democrats could vote in favor of a bill and Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, could break the tie in votes.
In a statemen issued in response, Sinema’s office touted her commitment to bipartisanship.
“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. She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands,” Sinema spokesperson Hannah Hurley said.
On Twitter, she touted a meeting she had with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, a non-profit advocating for Indigenous people in Arizona, and praised them for their “continued partnership.” Meanwhile, Sinema and the Arizona Democratic Party began trending.
Grateful for the continued partnership and advocacy of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona – and glad we could discuss the historic investments our bipartisan infrastructure law makes in AZ tribal communities. https://t.co/lC6HZmvLpN
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) January 22, 2022
Sinema’s popularity continues to fall, with a poll deeming her favorability rating with Democrats in her state of Arizona at 8 percent this month. Several organizations that supported her in 2018, when she narrowly earned victory for her Senate seat, are now being pressured to withdraw their support going forward. That includes the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Emily’s List, and several other organizations.
Several prominent Democrats and activists, including LGBTQ activists, have made clear for the last year that they’ll oppose Sinema’s reelection if she doesn’t change her position. Civil rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have both protested against her in recent months.
In a video unveiled last year, several notoriously anti-LGBTQ politicians – chief among them former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) – tell an audience that they should thank Sinema for dooming LGBTQ rights laws. Even hate group leader Brian Brown, a longtime anti-LGBTQ advocate and president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which still hopes to end marriage equality, also praised Sinema and used her position for fundraising.
Despite her waning popularity with her own constituents and progressive backers, Beltway gossip maintains that Sinema is planning a run for President in 2024.