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Sinema Is “Obstacle to Progress,” Say 5 Vets Who Quit Her Advisory Panel

The veterans accused the Arizona senator of answering to big donors rather than her own constituents.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema departs from a caucus meeting with Democratic Senators at the U.S. Capitol Building on October 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Five military veterans who served on an advisory panel for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) abruptly resigned on Thursday, writing in a letter addressed to the senator that she was “hanging [her] constituents out to dry” by refusing to support the progressive ideals she espoused as a candidate for office.

In the letter sent to Sinema, which was obtained by The New York Times and featured in an advertisement by a progressive veterans group called Common Defense, the vets said they were disappointed by Sinema’s refusal to support reforming or abolishing the filibuster rules in order to pass President Joe Biden’s agenda. They cited Sinema’s opposition to Biden’s $3.5 trillion social safety net, climate and tax plan as a reason for their decision, condemning the senator’s willingness to accept big-money donations from lobbyists.

“You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people,” the veterans wrote. “We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming.”

The five veterans who wrote to Sinema said she was using them as “window dressing” to appeal to voters in a state where more than 6 percent of residents have served in the armed forces.

“Are you choosing to answer to big donors rather than Arizonans? These are not the actions of a maverick,” the veterans wrote.

In a separate statement, Sylvia González Andersh, one of the veterans who signed the letter, said that Sinema’s frequent intraparty clashes with other Democrats have demoralized constituents who fought to win her seat.

“Democrats were out desperately trying to help her win the seat, and now we feel like, what was it for?” Andersh said. “Nobody knows what she is thinking because she doesn’t tell anybody anything. It’s very sad to think that someone who you worked for that hard to get elected is not even willing to listen.”

Sinema responded to the resignation of the five veterans from the advisory panel in a statement released by her office, saying:

While it is unfortunate that apparent disagreement on separate policy issues has led to this decision, I thank them for their service and will continue working every day to deliver for Arizona’s veterans who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe and secure.

The letter’s signatories aren’t the only ones who are frustrated with Sinema’s actions since taking office. In fact, in a hypothetical primary race against the senator, most Democrats in Arizona would likely support a more progressive candidate.

A Data for Progress poll published earlier this month found that, even in a crowded primary, Sinema would likely lose to another Democrat running to unseat her. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) — one name that has been suggested as a possible replacement for Sinema — would win a five-person primary race with 23 percent of the vote, the poll found. Meanwhile, Sinema would win just 19 percent of the vote if the election happened today.

In a head-to-head matchup between just Sinema and Gallego, the latter would win by nearly 40 points, Data for Progress found. However, Sinema is not up for re-election until 2024.

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