While the White House and Democratic congressional leadership are publicly hoping U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s departure from the party won’t change much in Washington, D.C., progressives in her home state of Arizona and across the nation are already pushing to replace the newly declared Independent if she runs for reelection in 2024.
The “Primary Sinema” campaign rebranded on Saturday as “Replace Sinema” following the senator’s Friday announcement—which came just days after Democrats secured 51 seats in the Senate with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) winning his second crucial runoff in as many years.
The Change for Arizona 2024 PAC project was launched in September “to educate the public about the ways Kyrsten Sinema has let down Arizonans and caved to special interests,” said the campaign, which has raised over $500,000 from thousands of grassroots donors. “Now, as Kyrsten Sinema has left the Democratic Party, the group’s effort will shift toward defeating her in a potential three-way general election and replacing her with a real Democrat.”
Sinema—who insists she won’t caucus with the GOP—is now one of three Independents in the upper chamber, joining Sens. Angus King (Maine) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), who both caucus with the Democrats. Sanders notably sought the party’s nomination for president in 2016 and 2020.
The “Replace Sinema” campaign on Sunday spotlighted Sanders’ morning appearance on CNN, during which he called her out for so far serving as a “corporate Democrat” who, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), has “sabotaged enormously important legislation.”
“I happen to suspect that it’s probably a lot to do with politics back in Arizona,” Sanders said of Sinema abandoning the party. “I think the Democrats there are not all that enthusiastic about somebody who helped sabotage some of the most important legislation that protects the interests of working families and voting rights and so forth.”
“So I think it really has to do with her political aspirations for the future in Arizona,” added Sanders, who said he’d be watching closely to see who may challenge her in two years. “But for us, I think nothing much has changed in terms of the functioning of the U.S. Senate.”
In response to a video Sinema shared about her decision—which she has framed as an attempt to “stay focused on solving problems and getting things done for everyday Arizonans”—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted that “not once in this long soliloquy does Sinema offer a single concrete value or policy she believes in.”
“She lays out no goals for Arizonans, no vision, no commitments,” the progressive “Squad” member added. “It’s ‘no healthcare, just vibes’ for Senate. People deserve more. Grateful this race and nomination has opened up.”
Pushing back against Sinema’s statements about the move, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said: “Bye Felicia… This isn’t about the party, this is about your pharma donors! Stop lying!”
This story has been edited for length. Read the full story at Common Dreams.