Kyrsten Sinema, It’s Time to Change Your Tune

Start Legislating Like You Want to Win

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

By now, you are probably aware of Kyrsten Sinema, Senator from Arizona. She’s Joe Manchin’s bunk buddy in the fight to keep the filibuster intact and ensure that Mitch McConnel can stymie popular legislation. Or you might remember her for her curtsy against the $15 minimum wage or her fashion.

Last week, I stumbled on an abysmal poll for Senator Sinema. Not only was it bad, but it could be catastrophic for her reelection in 2024.

In the Data for Progress poll, Senator Sinema is dramatically behind her fellow AZ Senator, Mark Kelly, and President Biden in popularity. Only 44% of Arizona's approve of her job performance. In contrast, half of Arizonans approve of Mark Kelly, while only 39% disapprove. The worst part is probably that only 5% strongly approve of her job. Strong supporters are essential to a campaign. Otherwise, who’s going to go out and volunteer for you, talk to voters for you, donate to you?

This poll and opposition from Arizona small business leaders should be a wake-up call for Senator Sinema that whatever she is doing is not working and it's time to change tack.

Bipartisanship Alone Won’t Win

Since Biden took office, Senator Sinema has been playing the bipartisanship card. She is the most right-leaning Democrat in the Senate according to her voting record (she’s even ahead of Manchin).

On paper, one could reasonably conclude that advocating bipartisanship will help a candidate win more votes. But Senator Synema’s problem is that all she has is bipartisanship. It’s hard to pinpoint what she truly stands for on issues that affect Arizonans.

Most of her positions are incredibly vague and honestly lazy. She’s the senior Senator from Arizona and I don’t know what she stands for?

  • She voted against the $15 minimum wage without real explanation
  • She supports the Post Office (who doesn’t?)
  • She supports “keeping families safe” (seems vague)
  • She supports creating jobs (again, who isn’t?)

What she seems to stand for most is bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake.

Have a bill that is supported by 70% of Americans? Doesn’t matter.

All that matters is that Republican Senators approve.

And the latest polling shows that this strategy is failing epically. You see this clearly when you break down the Data for Progress poll numbers by political affiliation.

  • 53% of Republicans still hate her even if she poses with John Cornyn.
  • Independents are mildly nicer where she’s tied 40% approve vs. 41% disapprove.
  • 10% of Democrats strongly approve, which is a sad feat in and of itself.

Missing the Moment

The weird thing about Kyrsten Sinema is that she didn’t use to be such a centrist known for ducking into the private GOP cloakroom to chat up Republican Senators. She began her career as an anti-war activist with the more left-leaning Green Party in Arizona.

But while her Democratic colleagues have recognized the clear and present danger of the current GOP leadership, she has reversed course and buddied up with GOP leadership.

In her April op-ed defending the filibuster, she stated:

“I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together”

This clearly shows that Senator Sinema is missing the moment that we are in. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her hero, John McCain, but we aren’t in that world anymore. Republicans can’t even approve a 1/6 Commission. Tell me how they are going to sign onto bipartisan deals? The current Senate rules are incentivizing the GOP to not cooperate. Abolishing the filibuster would actually accomplish her goal of “changing behavior.”

Start Fighting for Real Priorities

While bipartisanship is something we all want to see more of, more overwhelmingly, Americans want to see concrete (pun intended) improvements to their lives. If Senator Sinema wants to win back her constituents, they want to see her fighting for Arizonans not institutions like the Senate.

“Arizonans know Washington is dysfunctional. Too many politicians are more concerned about the next election than doing what’s best for everyday people.” - Kyrsten Sinema’s website

She said it herself, Washington is dysfunctional and it’s time that Senator Sinema is not one of those roadblocks. She will need to dramatically work on her image to bring back the support that she’s lost and the best way to do that is to attach herself to an issue that many Americans (and more so Democrats) care deeply about.

While she’s attempting to be one of the faces of the infrastructure bill, she’s still doing herself a disservice by allowing Republicans to dictate the agenda. Plus, she announced she is against the $3.5 trillion Infrastructure package that would be packed with climate initiatives, universal child and elder care, and Medicare expansion which will be very good for Arizona’s aging population and warming climate.

Perhaps the issue most poised to help bring her supporters back to her is voting rights. Arizona is the epicenter of the Big Lie election audits. The Cyber Ninjas are in Maricopa County now damaging voting machines and using outlandish conspiracy theories to do it (something about Italy remotely switching votes?).

What better way for Sinema to crawl out of the ashes of her future 2024 campaign than to announce support for a carve-out of the filibuster on voting rights to fight for Arizonan’s right to vote? It hits directly at the heart of Arizonans who are watching QANON-supporting Arizona GOP members try to steal their constitutional right to vote. And it’s just the right thing to do. Bipartisanship doesn’t work when one party actively tried to overturn an election and another party wants to pass legislation to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

So Senator Sinema, instead of telling us to f*** off, maybe you tell your strategy to and start taking a harder stand on issues that will help Arizonans.

Nice ring
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Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist who’s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.

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