Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is the person often viewed as the face of the centrist-to-right-leaning faction of the Democratic Party. He’s certainly more conservative than his fellow Senate Democrats. Manchin's pro-life, pro-gun rights, and not the biggest fan of the Environmental Protection Agency, especially when Obama was in office. Okay—slight caveat, he’s more pro-Second Amendment than most in his party. The 2013 Manchin-Toomey bill was bad, but you can be happy there’s a Democrat who respects the history, tradition, and purpose of the Second Amendment. That’s a good thing. Manchin also told Beto O’Rourke that he’s not coming close to his guns when the latter said, “hell yes,” his agenda is coming after people’s firearms. I guess Manchin could be a Republican, but he’s not. He’s a master at retail politics, and even Republicans in his state like him. Manchin's also not worried about re-election. If West Virginians vote him out, he’ll happily go home—no love lost. Yet, he finally has something of an ally, albeit a much quieter one. Her name is Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and she gives zero f**ks about what you think about her, but that goes double for members of her own party.
Sinema's not going to take the mantle of being the feisty progressive a la Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). She won’t do media hits to increase her standing or profile, and for all that is holy—do not ask her about impeachment. POLITICO had a lengthy piece about how this woman could become one of the most powerful in the Senate, especially if Democrats mount a successful 2020 push to retake the upper chamber. Like a crocodile, she waits patiently. She votes what she thinks is best and will not kowtow to party elders. As the publication noted, the three words to best describe Sinema in those situations: leave me alone.
Sinema reportedly spends as much time with Republican colleagues as she does Democratic ones. She’s a fitness monster, skipping Senate votes to do an Ironman, and she has voted for key Trump nominees, namely Attorney General William Barr, who the Left views as Emperor Palpatine. Okay, maybe not Palpatine, but certainly Grand Moff Tarkin for all you Star Wars fans out there. Whatever, Sinema doesn’t care. Democratic Party unity is on the lower end of her list of priorities, and that is driving the Left insane. She is said to be facing censure from the Arizona Democratic Party (via AZ Central):
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is facing a censure vote from the Arizona Democratic Party, brought by progressives who deem her politics too accommodating to President Donald Trump at the expense of Democratic values.
Sinema, D-Ariz., built a moderate political brand during her three terms in the House of Representatives, which has extended to her early days in the Senate. According to the FiveThirtyEight Trump Tracker, she has opposed Trump while in the Senate 81% of the time. In the House, she supported Trump’s agenda 54% of the time.
While Sinema’s political centrism has earned her Republican support, it has grated on progressives — some of whom silently protested her during a state fundraising dinner in downtown Phoenix. Democratic state committeemen will consider the resolution on Saturday, at the Arizona Democratic Party’s quarterly meeting.
They cite in particular her vote to confirm Trump’s nominee, David Bernhardt, to serve as secretary of the Interior, and her vote to confirm William Barr as U.S. attorney general.
She has criticized both sides for the heated rhetoric and has not watched a single Democratic Party debate. She prefers to be happy, according to POLITICO. I mean, I can totally empathize with that position. If this weren’t my job, I would’ve tapped out after the first debate because we all saw what this circus was going to be like for the next year. Trump is bad, I’m left-wing, let all the illegals get health care, immigration officers are Nazis, the GOP is evil, we need to destroy private health insurance, and the Earth is boiling and we’re all going to die. Rinse, wash, and repeat.
Truth be told, I was upset when Sinema won her 2018 race against Republican Martha McSally, who now serves with Sinema following her appointment upon the death of late Sen. John McCain. The publication added that the two remain at “arm’s length,” though their staffs work together. The campaign got rather nasty. Still, her Ms. Independent streak is admirable. It’s also hopeful that she’ll be a voice of reason, countering her party’s more left-wing appetites. She also did something that even Manchin thought made no sense (via POLITICO):
Yet Sinema is also setting herself up to be a pivotal vote the next time the Democrats are in power. And her radical breed of centrism could be a headache for the party.
Take the liberal drive to bust down age-old Senate rules in order to pass “Medicare for All” or a “Green New Deal.” Sinema not only opposes getting rid of the 60-vote filibuster threshold for legislation, she wants to restore the supermajority requirement for presidential nominees that has been weakened by both parties.
“They will not get my vote on [nuking the filibuster],” Sinema said in her office, outfitted with shiny leather and translucent chairs and boasting a vivid shade of purple that pops from the walls. “In fact, whether I’m in the majority or the minority I would always vote to reinstate the protections for the minority. … It is the right thing for the country.”
Unlike any of her colleagues, she snubbed sitting Sen. Ed Markey and endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy, an old House colleague and close friend, in the hotly contested Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. That earned a rejoinder from Manchin: “I would never do that … made no sense to me at all.”
And she is criticizing senators in both parties for “highly partisan” statements on impeachment and is declining to endorse the House impeachment inquiry: “That’s not my job, that’s not my role.”
For all her distance from the establishment, Sinema also seems to have come to an understanding with Schumer, whom she opposed as Democratic leader during her 2018 campaign.
Like every member of the caucus, she gets random calls from Schumer frequently enough that she can easily break into a raspy New York accent while doing a brief impression of the minority leader: “‘Sinema! What’s new?’”
But when push comes to shove on important votes, she has a warning for party honchos: Leave her alone.
“Everyone knows that I am very independent-minded,” she said. “And that it’s not super useful to try and convince me otherwise.”
Sinema is unmoved and might even see a censure as a badge of honor after McCain received one from the state GOP. Sinema won’t fight the effort and won’t change her positions. And if the censure resolution comes back up next year? “I don’t know. Also, don’t care.”
Sinema’s attempt to be above the political fray is central to her identity and her goal of building relationships with as many colleagues as possible.
Party leaders’ whip counts? Not her problem. Using her platform as senator to regularly promote her views to a national audience? Not interested. Skipping caucus lunches almost everyone else attends? She’ll be there when it matters for Arizona.
Now, what about the 2020 Arizona race? McSally is facing Democrat Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was targeted in an assassination attempt in 2011. She was shot in the head but survived and now advocates for gun control. POLITICO said that Giffords is not interested in revenge and has no plans to endorse Kelly, saying her constituents couldn’t care less about it.
Hey, it’s quite possible that McSally is given the boot. She apparently isn’t the best campaigner, and she decided to re-hire her 2018 losing campaign staff to quarterback her 2020 re-elect. I mean, seriously? If Kelly wins, at least Sinema isn’t a rabid lefty like "The Squad." She could be some good backup for Manchin against the more radical elements of the Democratic agenda. Sinema turned out to be quite a surprise for now. With the GOP’s Senate picture looking quite grim at the moment, worst-case scenarios have to be run, and Sinema being a rational, independent Democrat is certainly better than the alternatives. That being said, a lot can happen. We have a long way to go until Election Day 2020. Joni Ernst could have solid fundraising numbers in Iowa, and Thom Tillis could improve his standing in North Carolina. A lot of this hinges on the economy, but for now, though she is a Democrat, Sinema isn’t totally insane. She voted for Barr and has no regrets, apparently. You can’t win them all, but if there are Democrats like Sinema out there, and they happen to unfortunately best one of our guys in an election, I guess that’s something I can live with.