For Sinema and Manchin, a Big Question Looms

Will the Democratic party support primary challenges against them in 2024?
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2022 10:55 AM CST
For Sinema and Manchin, a Big Question Looms
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., left, walks with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., on Nov. 16, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin didn't budge on the filibuster—thus dooming voting-rights legislation—and have cemented their roles as perceived fiends among Democrats. Now the big question in regard to the Democratic senators: Will the party try to "primary" them in 2024? Chuck Schumer and other party leaders aren't yet talking about supporting Democratic challengers, but the buzz is growing. Coverage:

  • No worries: The general sentiment is that Sinema is far more vulnerable to a primary challenge in Arizona than Manchin in West Virginia. "I've been primaried my entire life," said Manchin in response to the speculation, per Politico. "That would not be anything new for me."

  • Different story: Sinema, however, apparently has reason to worry. "I don't know how she wins a Democratic primary for Senate," Andres Cano, a Democratic state representative from Tucson, tells Intelligencer. The piece by Ben Jacobs makes the case that Sinema "has become public enemy number one on the left," because, unlike Manchin, she began her political career by embracing progressive policies. The former Green Party activist and the first openly bisexual member of Congress is now "regarded as a traitor."
  • Challenger: Already, stories are pointing to a potential Sinema challenger, Rep. Ruben Gallego. He made the unusual move of calling out Sinema by name after a speech she gave defending the filibuster as necessary for bipartisan politics. "We won't shrink from protecting our democracy and the voting rights of all Americans," said Gallego on the House floor. "It's past time for the US Senate and Senator Sinema to do the same." A profile at Business Insider notes that Gallego isn't exactly going out of his way to tamp down speculation. "I never say no to the future," he said in one of his many cable news appearances of late.

  • One view: In a Washington Post op-ed, Henry Olsen writes that the push to primary the Democrats represents "warped" thinking on the part of progressives. "The fact that [Manchin] and Sinema prioritize the views of their constituents over the views of progressive activists isn't heresy; it's democracy." The push will only strengthen Republicans, he adds.
  • 2 big names: One of the most prominent progressives, Sen. Bernie Sanders, says he thinks primaries for both are likely. Would he support the challengers? "Well, yeah," he told reporters this week, per the Guardian. Another big name on the left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, hedged when asked about it. "We'll address that when we get past this week," she said on Tuesday, per the Hill.
(More Kyrsten Sinema stories.)

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