The ostensible Democrat’s obstructionism might get her kicked off of Emily’s List.
The American political system as an all-encompassing enterprise essentially operates on two diametrically opposing speeds. Either change creeps along at a pace so agonizingly slow that it would bore a glacier to tears, or it rockets ahead so quickly that you’re left trying to catch your breath and figure out what the hell just happened.
Consider, for example, Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, co-chair of her party’s grotesquely selfish obstructionist caucus. In 2018, Sinema rode into the United States Senate as a rare Democrat-from-Arizona, thanks to a solid narrative of progressive bona fides and enormous financial backing from a host of left-leaning groups, the most generous of which (by a large margin) was women’s health care advocacy org Emily’s List. Fast forward to this week, and Sinema — just halfway through her first term — is no longer a progressive rabblerouser, but rather a cartoonish institutionalist, proudly blocking her own party’s make-or-break voting rights legislation. And Emily’s List, once her number-one source of campaign cash, is getting pretty sick of her shit.
“Our mission can only be realized when everyone has the freedom to have their voice heard safely and freely at the ballot box,” the organization’s president, Laphonza Butler, explained in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon. “Ongoing Republican efforts at voter suppression don’t just undermine our mission, but the very democratic ideals that should be at the center of our government.”
Butler went on to make it very clear that the group’s disgust at Republican voter suppression isn’t limited to card-carrying members of the GOP, either.
“We have not endorsed or contributed to Sen. Sinema since her election in 2018,” Butler continued. “Right now, Sen. Sinema’s decision to reject the voices of allies, partners, and constituents who believe the importance of voting rights outweighs that of an arcane process means she will find herself standing alone in the next election.”
That Emily’s List, one of the powerhouses of the extended Democratic political galaxy, would publicly threaten a sitting woman senator is itself a seismic shot across Sinema’s bow. It’s a move made all more acutely significant given the fact that just hours after the group’s press release was published, Sinema’s fellow Arizona Democrat, Sen. Mark Kelly, came out in support of the very filibuster reform measure she has staked her political future on killing.
Here then are two Democratic senators, historical oddities in their state and ostensibly speaking to the same voter base, not simply disagreeing, but essentially going head-to-head over their own party’s legislative priority.
It’s entirely unclear whether Kelly’s embrace of filibuster reform is a poison pill in Arizona politics, or if Sinema’s enthusiastic pivot toward Joe Manchin-esque obstinance will kill her political future. Polling in Arizona suggests that the majority of voters there support both the Democrats’ voting rights bill and some sort of adjustment to the existing filibuster rules, but with years to go before either Sinema or Kelly will face re-election, it’s anyone’s guess how things will shake out. What’s certain for now, however, is that if Sinema continues down the path she’s laid out for herself — and there’s no reason to think she’ll deviate anytime soon — she’ll be facing 2024 decidedly off Emily’s List.