Why a Kyrsten Sinema primary challenge looks 'more and more likely': reporter
Although centrist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has been a frequent source of frustration for her party’s progressive wing — not unlike Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — she has her share of admirers among independents, libertarians and Never Trump conservatives. Sinema is on very friendly terms with the McCain family, including anti-Trump GOP activists Cindy McCain (the late Sen. John McCain’s widow) and Meghan McCain (Sen. McCain’s daughter). And her defenders have argued that if Sinema faces a primary challenge in 2024 and Arizona Democrats nominate a staunch liberal or progressive instead of her, they run the risk of putting that U.S. Senate seat back in Republican hands.
But in an article published by the Daily Beast on August 12, reporter Sam Brodey lays out some reasons why a primary challenge is becoming increasingly “likely” for Sinema.
“In the last year,” Brodey explains, “Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) hasn’t missed many opportunities to stick it to her own party — becoming, quite literally, the embodiment of a thumbs-down to the most treasured agenda items for Democrats. That maverick posturing has made a primary challenge to the Arizona centrist in the 2024 election more and more likely by the month.”
Brodey continues, “Last week, however, Sinema did something that may have made a primary battle not just a likelihood, but a near-certainty.
After Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced a deal on a $700 billion climate, health care, and tax reform package, all eyes turned to Sinema to see if she’d lend her support and become the crucial 50th vote. But as talks ramped up, Sinema made clear that she wouldn’t support the so-called Inflation Reduction Act — at all — if lawmakers didn’t take a sledgehammer to significant tax reforms included in the legislation.”
Sinema ultimately voted “yes” on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, but not until Democrats agreed to remove tax-related parts of it that even Manchin had agreed to.
“In Sinema’s sights were two key measures in particular: one to establish a minimum corporate tax rate and another to close the so-called carried interest loophole, a break that allows many finance professionals to tax their incomes at a lower rate,” Brodey notes. “Virtually all Democrats, and President Joe Biden, saw this legislation as a long-awaited opportunity to compel an array of finance interests — from wealthy private equity barons to hedge fund honchos — to pay more in taxes, and in the process, raise hundreds of billions of dollars to help pay for the legislation. Sinema, clearly, felt otherwise. She spent much of her considerable political capital to preserve a favorable tax structure for deep-pocketed special interests.”
Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is often mentioned as a possible primary challenger for Sinema in 2024, was quick to slam Sinema for the ways in which she altered the Inflation Reduction Act before voting for it.
Emily Kirkland, a progressive activist in Arizona, told the Beast, “Any successful primary challenge was always going to be built on the idea that Kyrsten Sinema favors the richest people in the country over the needs of people in Arizona. Her maneuvering just encapsulates that narrative so cleanly…. There’s no question you can run a campaign against her that is not about progressive vs. moderate or left vs. right.”
Democrat Chris Herstam, who formerly served in the Arizona State Legislature, told the Beast, “You wouldn’t use all the leverage in the world that you have on the reconciliation bill and make the most important issue providing continued tax relief and tax loopholes for fabulously wealthy hedge fund managers. It plays right into the hands of a Ruben Gallego.”
Arizona Republic reporter Gregory Svirnovskiy took a look at the rivalry between Sinema and Gallego in an article published on July 22.
Svirnovskiy reported, “Rep. Ruben Gallego is campaign fundraising off the prospect of his running against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona's 2024 Democratic primary…. Gallego has continued to lob barbs at Sinema. On Twitter, he's called her out for refusing to end the Senate's legislative filibuster, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V. The filibuster has so far made it impossible for President Joe Biden to push through much of his legislative agenda…. Just weeks ago, Gallego challenged Sinema to an Arizona town hall where she could explain her continued adherence to the filibuster at the expense of federal regulations protecting the right to an abortion.”
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