The Arizona Democratic Party executive committee voted on Saturday to censure Sen. Kyrsten Sinema over her vote to keep the Senate’s filibuster rules, which helped dash her party’s hopes of passing voting-rights legislation. “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,” state party chair Raquel Terán said in a statement.
The censure has no practical effect but does reflect the way the first-term senator is distancing herself from party members and the growing anger among Democrats over her role in preventing President Joe Biden’s agenda from moving forward. Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin were the two Democrats to join Republicans in maintaining that filibuster rule. Sinema had said that while she backed the voting-rights bills, she feared that eliminating the requirement of 60 votes for major legislation would only fan the flames of division.
Although Sinema’s eagerness to not tout the party line has given her lots of leverage in Washington, it has also angered lots of Democrats, many of whom are increasingly talking about preventing her reelection. Several progressive groups are already raising money for an eventual primary challenger to Sinema even though she won’t be on the ballot again until 2024. Laphonza Butler, president of Emily’s List, said that Sinema’s vote against ending the filibuster “means she will find herself standing alone in the next election.”
In the statement announcing the censure vote, Teran said that while the Arizona Democratic Party “is a diverse coalition” and there is “plenty of room for policy disagreements” the issue of voting rights is too important. “In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will,” Teran said. Responding to the censure, a Sinema spokesperson noted that the senator had long held the same position on the filibuster. “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,” Hannah Hurley said in a statement. “She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”