On Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said that backing a progressive primary challenger to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) would be the “easiest decision” she would ever have to make.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, Ocasio-Cortez said that four years into her six-year term, the conservative Democrat hasn’t “given a compelling case as to why she should be renominated as the Democratic nominee” in Arizona.
“She has proven herself an obstacle to the right to vote in the United States, she is not an ally on civil rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said, adding that Sinema has become a “threat” to securing a stable democracy in the U.S. “She is not standing up to corporate interests – in fact, she is a profound ally to them … she is not doing what voters in Arizona sent her to do.”
The New York progressive said that she would gladly support a progressive challenger to Sinema should one arise when the senator is up for reelection in 2024.
“If it came down to someone like Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema, I think that would be the easiest decision I would ever have to make,” she said. “There is no comparison…. We need someone that has more allegiance to the actual people of this country than special interests.”
Representative Gallego, a Democratic Congress member from Phoenix, is an early progressive favorite to challenge Sinema. He recently said that he has been encouraged by political figures of all stripes – lawmakers, unions, Democratic advocacy groups and donors – to run against Sinema in two years.
A recent poll by Data for Progress found that Sinema would lose against Gallego if the primary were held now. Among likely Arizona Democratic primary voters, a whopping 74 percent of respondents said that they would vote for Gallego, while only 16 percent said they would vote for Sinema. Against a less well-known potential candidate, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, Sinema would still lose by a large margin, securing only 17 percent of the vote, the poll found.
If the polling data is reflective of the state’s Democratic populace, it means that Sinema has only gotten less popular since last October, when a similar poll conducted by Data for Progress found that Gallego would win 62 to 23 percent among Democratic primary voters. Against other hypothetical challengers, including Romero, Sinema received no more than 26 percent support, the poll found.
Meanwhile, support for Sinema among Democrats has dropped drastically over the past year. The poll from last October found that Sinema’s job approval is dismal, with only 25 percent approval and 70 percent disapproval. Earlier this month, she lost the support of major Democratic organizations like Emily’s List, a prominent abortion rights PAC that helps to elect female Democratic candidates to office.
Last week, Sinema even lost the support of her party in her home state, as the Arizona Democratic Party voted to censure the lawmaker on Friday. While they have had frustrations with Sinema over her opposition to filibuster abolition or reform, the party said, Sinema’s obstruction of voting rights legislation last week was a step too far.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) praised the party’s decision earlier this week, calling the move “exactly right.” Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-West Virginia) vote against changing filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation was “a terrible, terrible vote” and “pathetic,” Sanders said. Last week, the progressive lawmaker also indicated that he was open to supporting primary challengers to Sinema and Manchin.