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primary Sinema

A January 18, 2022 flash poll of Arizona activists conducted by the progressive advocacy group Indivisible found that 94% of respondents would support a Democratic primary challenger to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) if she does not back filibuster reform to pave the way for passage of her party's key voting rights legislation. (Image: Indivisible)

94% of AZ Progressives Support Primary Challenge if Sinema Kills Voting Rights

"Sinema can betray Arizonans, but there aren't enough pharma lobbyists in the world to keep her in office if she does."

Brett Wilkins

As U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema continues to stymie voting rights legislation by refusing to support filibuster reform, an overwhelming majority of respondents to a Tuesday survey by Indivisible said they would back a 2024 primary challenger to the Arizona Democrat if she does not change course.

"Since 2021, Arizonans have been calling on Sinema to eliminate the filibuster and pass democracy reform."

In a "flash poll," the progressive advocacy group asked over 4,600 Indivisible activists in Arizona via SMS: "If Sen. Sinema votes 'no' on fixing the filibuster and passing voting rights, would you support a Democratic primary challenge to her in 2024?"

Out of the 723 people who texted back, 94% replied affirmatively.

"Since 2021, Arizonans have been calling on Sinema to eliminate the filibuster and pass democracy reform," Indivisible said in a statement Tuesday. "Despite the senator's refusal to host a single town hall or have a meeting with activists, Indivisibles have been trying to get through to her with rallies, light brigades, car caravan protests, letters to the editor, and social media."

"After a year of demonstrations and activist pressure, fed-up constituents and voters who helped elect Sinema are starting conversations around finding a Democratic primary challenger to Sinema after her failure to represent Arizonans and follow through on her campaign promises," the group said.

Indivisible isn't the only progressive organization that would support primarying Sinema. In a statement last week, Adam Jentleson of Battle Born Collective and the Primary Sinema Project asserted that "there is no excuse for Sinema's obstruction" of filibuster reform, which progressives say could be the key to passing the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.

Obstruction by Sinema and fellow corporate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) has already all but sunk President Joe Biden's flagship Build Back Better Act, as well as other progressive legislation.

Jentleson argues that Sinema is "out of step with Arizonans—and not just Democrats," noting, for example, that 61% of all voters in the state support a $15 minimum wage—which she opposes—according to Data for Progress polling.

"Sinema is not blocking a wave of far-left priorities," he asserts, "rather, she is blocking President Biden's agenda. Biden ran and won on an ambitious agenda that included democracy reforms and aggressive steps to stop climate change, among many other issues. By supporting Republican efforts to gut Biden's Build Back Better agenda, and by defending the filibuster that blocks a wide range of Democratic priorities, Sinema is blocking much of Biden's agenda from passing."

Punchbowl News reporter Christian Hall tweeted Tuesday that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told him that "he'd be open to supporting a primary challenge to senators against suspending the filibuster."

EMILY's List, the national advocacy group that supports pro-choice women running for public office, said Tuesday it would no longer support Sinema if she won't back filibuster reform.

"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," Emily's List president Laphonza Butler said in a statement Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the reproductive freedom advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America announced it was changing its endorsement criteria "to reflect our commitment to the freedom to vote."

"Going forward," the group tweeted, "we won't endorse any U.S. senator who doesn't support changing the Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation. Our democracy is on the line."

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