Members of the Arizona Democratic Party executive committee passed Saturday a resolution to censure Sen. Kyrsten Sinema over her vote to keep the filibuster.
The closed-door vote Saturday morning came after an avalanche of anger from liberals who characterize Sinema, D-Ariz., as an obstructionist who helped doom Democrats’ chances at passing voting-rights legislation.
The censure has no practical effect but does deliver a strong message of condemnation and reflects the will of the party’s most active and loyal members.
Sinema’s votes siding with Republicans and centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to maintain the Senate’s legislative filibuster rule helped kill Democrats’ push for passing two bills that would have established Election Day as a federal holiday, protected early- and mail-voting options banned partisan gerrymandering and bolstered election security, among other things. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would re-establish protections under the Voting Rights Act.
Though Sinema sponsored both bills, she would not support changes to the Senate’s legislative filibuster, which requires a 60-vote majority to move most bills.
“As a party, our job is to support our Democratic candidates, and we appreciate Senator Sinema’s leadership in passing the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” state party chair Raquel Terán said in a written statement. “However, we are also here to advocate for our constituents, and the ramifications of failing to pass federal legislation that protects their right to vote are too large and far-reaching. 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.”
Hannah Hurley, a Sinema spokesperson, responded by noting Sinema’s longstanding position on the filibuster and desire to work outside of partisan politics. Sinema has repeatedly said the filibuster helps encourage moderation and prevent “wild swings” between opposing political parties.
“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,” Hurley said in a written statement. “She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”
Last September, the party’s state committee members passed a resolution outlining potential action the party could take if she stuck by her filibuster position and held up passage of the voting rights bills. The resolution allowed for the party’s executive committee to discuss how to move forward with a possible “no confidence” in Sinema.
The executive committee met behind closed doors ahead of its annual meeting.
“I want to be clear, the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements, however on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear. In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will,” Teran said in her statement.
After the state GOP-led ballot review of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County following former President Donald Trump’s loss, she said, Republicans, have introduced dozens of bills to “to eliminate our popular and long-standing vote-by-mail system, jail election workers, and put Cyber Ninjas in charge of our elections.”
The censure carries echoes of the Arizona Republican Party’s censures of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Among the senator’s offenses: working on comprehensive immigration reform and not going along with a strategy by conservatives to “defund” former President Barack Obama’s signatures health care law.