Nuking Donald Trump too, of course. There’s more than one item on their 2024 to-nuke list.
But their eagerness to throw Sinema out of the Senate is reaching the same sort of fever pitch as MAGA’s eagerness to throw Liz Cheney out of the House. In fact, lefties may hate Sinema more than righties hate Cheney at this point for the simple reason that she’s a bigger thorn in their side. Cheney’s votes on House bills are inconsequential; her only relevance in Congress at this stage has to do with her work for the January 6 committee, which will end sometime this year. Sinema, on the other hand, helped hobble Biden’s attempt to pass Build Back Better and then wrecked the effort this week to pass federal voting-rights legislation by sticking to her guns on the filibuster.
She’s a serious obstacle to their agenda, at least in a 50/50 Senate. And they’re spoiling to make her pay.
Meet her all-but-certain 2024 primary challenger, Dem Rep. Ruben Gallego. He spoke out in favor of the voting-rights package yesterday and took the unusual step of calling out Sinema by name to get with the program:
Democracy is under attack, and Congress must respond. pic.twitter.com/0gLtja6srL
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) January 13, 2022
He wasn’t the only Democratic Senate hopeful to single her out. The party understands Joe Manchin’s electoral predicament and is willing to overlook his resistance to the left’s priorities more so than Sinema’s. Manchin represents a Trump +40 state, after all, holding a seat the Democrats have no business holding. He’s undoubtedly the best they can do in West Virginia. Sinema is different, a Democrat representing a 50/50 state that’s trending liberal and is already blue enough to have handed Joe Biden a victory in 2020. What’s more, she used to be known as a leftist. Not only do progressives think they can do better in Arizona, they feel betrayed by her emergence in the Senate as a centrist willing to go to the mat to protect the GOP’s power to block Biden.
So even though she and Manchin are united in their position on amending the filibuster to pass a voting-rights bill, lefties are identifying her as the type of Democrat they won’t be if they make it to the Senate:
Now more than ever, democrats need to vote like democrats.
Protecting the right to vote > Filibuster https://t.co/hVXWMxx9xz
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) January 13, 2022
Iowa Dem Abby Finkenauer went further than Fetterman did:
Kyrsten Sinema is a sellout.
I’ve got some thoughts and it’s time we hold nothing back. RT if you’re with me! pic.twitter.com/Mgf5fE4gWy
— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) January 13, 2022
Many an angry fundraising pitch followed:
After Kyrsten Sinema reiterated her support for the filibuster, Dem Senate candidates launched fundraising pleas in her name + blamed her for tanking voting rights legislation. Here’s a rundown in today’s LE
— Matt Holt (@mattholt33) January 14, 2022
No names are named in this tweet but it’s clear enough whom Hillary has in mind:
MLK Jr. said: “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” This is a subtweet.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 14, 2022
Just as MAGA pols can’t go wrong dumping on Cheney to prove their right-wing authenticity, progressives (and those pandering to them) can’t go wrong dumping on Sinema. But how much trouble is she in, realistically? Her primary is more than two years away, plenty of time for her to steer to the left to impress her detractors. With the GOP poised to take back the House, Sinema can go full socialist in 2023 and 2024 without having to worry that any far-left bill she supports will end making it to Biden’s desk. On top of that, as annoyed as the Democratic leadership is with her, they’ll be terrified of a GOP wave in 2024 that might plausibly return Republicans to total control of government. The safe play when you’re worried about a wipeout is to go all-in behind your incumbents. That means backing Sinema to the hilt and telling Gallego to stand down for the good of the party.
Still, her current polling is … what’s the word I’m looking for? Ah, yes: Atrocious. Her polling is atrocious.
In a hypothetical 2024 primary matchup with Rep. Ruben Gallego, the incumbent Democratic senator trailed 47% to 24%. Sinema was losing to Rep. Greg Stanton and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction by similarly wide margins…
Sinema’s image rating is now underwater, at 42% favorable and 45% unfavorable, although a plurality of Republicans (48%) hold positive feelings toward the senator. However, only 42% of Democrats view Sinema favorably, and when Democrats were asked whom they would prefer as their senator and given the choices of the incumbent, another generic Democrat, or a Republican, just 26% said they would prefer Sinema. Seventy-two percent preferred another Democrat.
That poll was published in late November. A separate progressive poll published in October, at the height of the left’s anger at her over Build Back Better, found her rocking a 25/70 approval rating among Democratic primary voters. Her Senate colleague Mark Kelly stood at 85/10 by comparison. She’d be a dynamite general election candidate in Arizona considering how warmly Republicans feel about her. (John Cornyn went so far as to wonder if the GOP would even field a candidate against her, which is, uh, stupid.) But she’s in so deep of a hole with her own party that it’s hard to imagine her fully recovering by 2024. The left’s memories of her role in slowing down BBB and then sinking voting-rights reform will be long.
It’s a cinch, in fact, that progressives will blame Sinema and Manchin for the GOP’s strong showing at the polls this fall whether or not there’s any evidence that new voting laws in states like Georgia and Texas affected the outcomes there. That’ll keep their hatred of her fresh for 2024.
According to Politico, Gallego is already putting his 2024 Senate campaign in motion even though he still has a 2022 House election ahead of him:
Sinema’s speech added fuel to the fire. The Primary Sinema PAC, dedicated to knocking her out of office in 2024, told Morning Score it was on track to hit its largest fundraising day ever on Thursday, although a spokesperson did not say how much money it actually raised after her speech…
Meanwhile, another effort to draft Gallego into the Senate race says it saw a fundraising bump after Sinema’s and Gallego’s speeches. The Run Ruben Run draft committee saw three times the number of contributions it had averaged over the last month, and four times its daily average, but declined to share any dollar amounts.
Gallego himself has taken steps toward running in recent months, such as hiring fundraiser Taylor Hennings, consulting with national donors and conducting polling. Currently holding a safe House seat in Phoenix, Gallego has had little incentive to raise money in the past; he only had $786,000 in campaign cash on hand at the end of last September, his most recent disclosure. Sinema had $4.5 million in her war chest as of Sept. 30.
I wrote about his nascent challenge to Sinema in October. He’s a formidable enough candidate on paper (“a Marine, a four-term congressman, a Latino in a state with a large Latino population, and even younger than Sinema is”) that Dem leaders might feel less anxiety about his primary challenge than they would a generic Democrat’s, believing that he’d stand a decent chance of winning the general as well. The question is whether lefty contempt for Sinema has reached a point of such intensity that they’d actually stay home in November if she prevailed over Gallego instead of holding their noses and sending her back to the Senate. If the left can tolerate another term for her, she may be unbeatable in the general election. If there’s a large “Never Sinema” contingent, though, then uh oh.
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