Late. Kyrsten Sinema’s statement on Thursday that she will not consider changes to Senate rules to pass legislation on voting rights spurred an immediate setback from other Democrats in Arizona.
The condemnation of Sinema’s stance in defending the filibuster came from all levels of the Democratic Party in her home state, including the state party, the state legislature, a Arizona congressman and grassroots activists who helped her win her seat in 2018.
“We are mildly disappointed that Senator Sinema has chosen to protect an outdated regime over its constituents,” the Arizona Democratic Party said Thursday.
In a announcement, State Representative Reginald Bolding (D-Phoenix), the leader of the state House Democratic caucus, outlined ongoing efforts by Arizona Republicans to restrict voting in the state based on former President Donald Trump’s election fraud before entering Sinema.
Bolding attacked Sinema for defending “the outdated filibuster from the Jim Crow era.” He challenged her “to step outside her DC bubble and take a closer look at her state and her country,” to see that voting rights “are being systematically rolled back right now – here and in state legislatures around the country.”
“Given the choice to cement the legacy of John Lewis or trample on it, I will never understand the speech that Senator Sinema gave today,” Bolding added.
Immediately after Sinema reiterated its opposition to changing Senate filibuster rules, the U.S. rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), A possible primary challenger from Sinema, to the hall to speak on the right to vote and called the senator by name.
“Today, Parliament showed where it stands,” Gallego said, referring to Parliament’s adoption of suffrage legislation earlier Thursday, before Sinema announced it would vote to kill it in the Senate. “We will not shy away from protecting our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans. It is time for the US Senate and Senator Sinema to do the same.”
Gallego told CNN on Friday that he is “very disappointed” in Sinema for “blocking voting rights legislation.”
“I never say no to the future,” Gallego said of a possible primary challenge in 2024 against Sinema.
An early effort to primarily Sinema in its 2024 re-election campaign, called the Primary Sinema Project, announced that it had raised $ 28,000 after Sinema’s Thursday speech, more than 10% of its total travel during the first 100 days, and increased its Twitter connection from 6,000 users to more than 37,000 from Friday afternoon.
Sinema may also lose the support and grassroots support of groups, activists and party leaders who helped her defeat Republican Senator Martha McSally by 55,000 votes in 2018.
“My reaction is any adjective to describe being disappointed,” said Signa Oliver, a super-volunteer for Sinema’s campaign who sits on the steering committee of two local grassroots groups in Arizona, Desert Progress Indivisible and Indivisible West Phoenix.
“It’s almost like being in a violent relationship where you hold out hope, but the person disappoints you all the time,” Oliver added.
By supporting Sinema’s campaign in 2018, local Indivisible groups that Oliver helps run held over 2,500 events, knocked on over 5,000 doors, made more than 235,000 phone calls, and sent more than 500,000 text messages. This is only a small part of the work grassroots activists did to help Sinema, as many Indivisible members volunteered directly for her campaign to avoid duplication of work.
Sinema may also lose support from national groups that helped select her in 2018. League of Conservation Voters and End Citizens United PAC both supported Sinema in 2018, with LCV spending more than $ 800,000 on her choice. They joined three other groups in sending a letter to senators Thursday, announcing that they would withhold campaign approvals from candidates who do not support changing Senate filibuster rules.
For now, the Arizona Democrats feel abandoned by their senior senator.
“We’re being left here on the front lines because we have a senator who does not care about her state,” Bolding told HuffPost.
But they hope she somehow changes her tune.
“We have two more years to work with her,” Oliver said. “We are open and willing to work with her, but she will have to leave this position on the filibuster.”
And if Sinema sticks to an attitude that denies the right to vote a path to review that she has had since President Joe Biden won the presidency and Democrats won control of the Senate, Oliver says, “our only alternative is to primary her.”