Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) pushed back on his state Democratic Party’s censure of colleague Kyrsten Sinema for refusing to change the chamber’s filibuster rule to pass election reform legislation.
“Senator Kelly does not support the censure,” Sarah Guggenheimer, a spokeswoman for Kelly’s re-election campaign, told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday.
“While they came to different decisions on this vote, he looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Sinema on Arizona priorities, as they have done during his first year in the Senate to pass critical infrastructure investments that will create good-paying jobs,” Guggenheimer said.
The Arizona Democratic Party announced Saturday that Sinema had been formally rebuked for what it called “her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy.”
Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined all 50 Republican senators last week to defeat the Democrats’ push to change the 60-vote legislative filibuster in order to clear the way for sweeping reforms to pass by a simple majority vote in the evenly divided chamber.
Sinema and Manchin have said that the filibuster ensures bipartisan cooperation is needed to pass legislation and circumventing it would only exacerbate existing political divisions.
Sinema’s refusal to set aside the filibuster outraged members of her caucus.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told CNN last weekend that he “absolutely” agreed with censuring Sinema and suggested he would support any Democratic candidates running against her and Manchin in primary elections.
“In that particular vote that she and Manchin cast, we were trying to address the reality that you have got 19 Republican states all over this country who are undermining the foundations of American democracy, trying to make it harder for people of color, young people, people with disabilities to vote, coming up with extreme gerrymandering, taking action against independent election officials,” Sanders told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
“And it is so important that we protect American democracy, that we stand up to the big lie of Trump and his allies that he really won the election. And they undermined that effort,” he said. “I think what the Arizona Democrats did was exactly right.”
Sanders went on to say that while the 2024 elections — in which both Sinema and Manchin are up for new terms — is still some time off, “if there were strong candidates in those states who were prepared to stand up for working families, who understand that the Democratic Party has got to be the party of working people taking on big money interests, if those candidates were there in Arizona and West Virginia, yes, I would be happy to support them.”
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said he has been fielding calls from his Democratic colleagues urging him to run against Sinema in a 2024 Senate primary.
“To be honest, I have gotten a lot of encouragement from elected officials, from senators, from unions, from your traditional Democratic groups, big donors,” Gallego told CNN. “Everything you can imagine under the sun.”