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Arizona Democratic Party censures Sinema over voting rights stance

Kyrsten Sinema was censured by the Arizona Democratic Party on Saturday morning, after the senator’s longstanding opposition to modifying Senate rules to pass voting rights bills culminated in the legislation stalling in Congress.

The Arizona Democrat has received substantial criticism for her position against creating a carveout in the filibuster for voting rights, along with fellow centrist Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.). A number of top donors threatened last week to stop funding Sinema if she didn’t reevaluate her stance, saying voting rights passage was “life or death important.”

Intra-party opposition to Sinema’s position reached a tipping point this month when she delivered a speech in which she firmly stated that she would not support the filibuster reforms for voting legislation, claiming it would make worse the “disease of division infecting our country.” The criticism within the Democratic party was widespread and immediate, with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) calling Sinema out by name in a speech on the House floor directly after.

The Arizona Democratic Party’s Executive Board held a meeting on Saturday morning to discuss action against the senator, and ultimately the board formally censured Sinema “as a result of her failure to do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our democracy.”

“I want to be clear, the Arizona Democratic Party is a diverse coalition with plenty of room for policy disagreements, however on the matter of the filibuster and the urgency to protect voting rights, we have been crystal clear,” ADP Chair Raquel Terán said in a statement following the decision.

“In the choice between an archaic legislative norm and protecting Arizonans’ right to vote, we choose the latter, and we always will,” Terán continued, adding that Arizona Republicans are in the midst of trying to “push restrictive legislation” that would make it harder to vote.

Sinema has noted that she supports voting rights, but does not support changing the filibuster rules. In a statement on Saturday afternoon, a Sinema spokesperson highlighted the senator’s dedication to bipartisanship in Congress.

“During three terms in the U.S. House, and now in the Senate, Kyrsten has always promised Arizonans she would be an independent voice for the state — not for either political party,” the spokesperson told POLITICO. “She’s delivered for Arizonans and has always been honest about where she stands.”

Sinema is up for reelection in 2024. Gallego’s House speech drummed up discussion that he could be a possible primary challenger, and one political action committee, the Primary Sinema PAC, is entirely dedicated to pushing the senator out.

Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.

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