Bernie Sanders Says He Would Support Primary Challengers to Manchin, Sinema

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Posted: Jan 18, 2022 7:00 PM
Bernie Sanders Says He Would Support Primary Challengers to Manchin, Sinema

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) said Tuesday that he believes there is a "good chance" Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) will face primary challengers in 2024 and that he would support potential opponents of the two moderate senators.

Sanders, who has repeatedly ripped his two moderate colleagues over their opposition to ending the filibuster, told reporters ahead of a caucus meeting that American democracy is at stake if the Senate filibuster rules are not changed and that GOP lawmakers across the country are "moving aggressively to suppress the vote and to impose extreme gerrymandering, among many other things."

"Anybody who believes in American democracy has got to vote to enable us to go forward with 50 votes to suspend the filibuster, at least on this vote," he said.

Democrats are looking for a filibuster carveout to pass two Democratic-backed voting bills with a simple majority instead of the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster. Manchin and Sinema have both said they support the bills but will not back a change to Senate rules to pass the legislation.

Sanders said that there is a "good chance" opponents of changing the filibuster could face primary challenges but noted that their fate ultimately lies in the hands of their constituents.

"There's a very good chance that people in those states— it's up to the people in those states but it's not just even the voting rights," he said.

And when asked whether he would support primary challengers to lawmakers wishing to keep current Senate rules in place, he said, "Yeah, I would."

Other progressives, however, have not been as straightforward when it comes to efforts to unseat Manchin and Sinema, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) telling "CBS Mornings" on Monday that "We will address that when we get past next week" when asked if her party's two moderate senators should face primary opponents.

Manchin said at a press conference Tuesday outside of his office that he welcomes primary challengers, saying, "Bring it on."

The West Virginia senator, representing a deeply conservative state, won the Democratic primary in 2018 against progressive Paula Jean Swearengin with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Sinema, meanwhile, is representing a once reliably Republican state that has shifted left in recent years, with Sinema's 2018 Senate race victory and President Joe Biden picking up the state's electoral votes in the 2020 election, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has done so since 1996.