Democrats are facing a 'nightmare Kyrsten Sinema dilemma' for 2024: report

Democrats are facing a 'nightmare Kyrsten Sinema dilemma' for 2024: report
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In 2024, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona will be up for reelection. It remains to be seen whether or not the centrist senator will seek a second term, but if she does, it won’t be as a Democrat: On Friday, December 9, Sinema announced that she had left the Democratic Party and registered as an independent.

Now, the question becomes: Will Sinema opt to seek reelection as an independent in 2024? And if she does, how will Democratic strategists and activists respond?

In an article published by Politico on December 13, reporters Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine discuss the challenges that Democrats could face if Sinema runs as an independent in 2024.

READ MORE:'Sen. Kari Lake?' Arizona could see a 'fractured field' if Kyrsten Sinema runs in 2024

“Democrats’ next Senate campaign chief is going to inherit a huge Kyrsten Sinema dilemma,” Everett and Levine explain. “The Arizona centrist’s turn to independent status is shaking up the Senate’s 2024 map just days after Democrats closed this year’s midterm battle with a huge win in Georgia. And Sinema isn’t the only one ramping up the pressure on the party: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) could soon force Democrats into tough spending decisions as he explores a bid that could produce a brutal three-way race if Sinema runs again.”

Liberal and progressive Arizona Democrats, frustrated by Sinema’s decidedly centrist voting record and her willingness to vote with Republicans at times, have been threatening her with a Democratic primary challenge. And Gallego is the more liberal Democrat that many of them have had in mind. But a Democratic primary is one thing that Sinema won’t have to worry about in 2024 now that she is no longer a Democrat.

“Though Sinema’s switch avoids a contested Democratic primary,” Everett and Levine observe, “it opens up a nightmare scenario for the party: With three candidates on the ballot, a GOP nominee can capitalize on centrist and liberal divisions and win a Senate seat with a plurality vote. Democrats are not eager to intervene at the moment, but at some point, they may have to make a call about whether to support Sinema, back whoever wins a primary or sit out the race altogether…. Arizona promises to present a hurdle of its own no matter what the candidate lineup looks like, challenging Democrats to keep the peace with a liberal base that opposes Sinema while also recognizing that a divided party may struggle to win a general election in the state.”

When Politico asked Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan to comment on Sinema’s decision to leave the Democratic Party and the possible implications for 2024, the outgoing Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) chairman responded, “At this moment, I’m really happy to say that’s the job of the next DSCC chair.”

READ MORE: New analysis explains why Kyrsten Sinema's distancing from the Democratic Party might not work in her favor

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a centrist Democrat, had no unkind words for Sinema when Politico interviewed him on December 12. But he acknowledged that the 2024 U.S. Senate race in Arizona could get complicated.

Asked whether the DSCC would back Sinema as an independent in 2024 or back a Democratic nominee, Tester responded, “They’ll have to make a call. It’ll be a tough decision, probably…. The standard is, the DSCC protects the incumbents. I don’t think that’s going to change. But it’s not my call…. She caucuses with us. She’s an incumbent.”

Nor did Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia criticize Sinema during an interview with Politico. Warner said of Sinema, “We have worked on a lot of deals together. Don’t always agree with her, but I think she’s proven to be a very effective legislator.”

Gallego, meanwhile, remains a vehement critic of Sinema but hasn’t officially announced a Senate run for 2024.

The Arizona congressman told Politico, “We’re definitely getting support from national Democrats if I run. I’ve already spoken to a lot of national Democratic donors. From the senatorial campaign committee, I can never predict…. There is no possibility of Kyrsten Sinema winning as a third-party candidate.... It would not be a very smart investment.”

READ MORE: ‘Holding the seat hostage': Social media blows up after Kyrsten Sinema announces she’s going independent

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