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Report: Progressives seeking censure of Sinema over voting record

By: - September 17, 2019 3:05 pm

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event in May 2019. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Progressives in Arizona want to formally censure U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for failing to support the party platform and siding with President Donald Trump too often.

To do so, the Progressive Caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party will introduce a resolution at this Saturday’s state party committee meeting. The resolution, which was first reported by ABC15, focuses specifically on her vote to confirm William Barr as U.S. attorney general and her failure to support the “Save the Internet Act,” which seeks to preserve the net neutrality protections created under President Barack Obama.

Sinema was one of only three Democrats who voted to confirm Barr, and she was one of only two Democrats not to co-sponsor the net neutrality legislation

ABC15 reported that the potential censure would come from the Arizona Democratic Party. However, a different version of the motion to censure provided to Arizona Mirror (and hosted on the state party’s website) specifies that the censure is being issued only by the Progressive Caucus, not the full Arizona Democratic Party.

“We love her, as we love all Democrats, but we want her to vote like a Democrat rather than supporting Trump half the time,” Dan O’Neil, a leader in the Progressive Caucus, told ABC15. 

That’s not hyperbole, either: According to vote-tracking by political analysis site FiveThirtyEight, Sinema has sided with Trump nearly 55% of the time since he became president. (That figure doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as Sinema has sided with Trump only 19% of the time since being elected to the Senate. Still, even that lower figure places her behind only West Virginia’s Joe Manchin among Democratic senators voting with Trump.)

Earlier this year, members of the Progressive Democrats for America protested Sinema at an Arizona Democratic Party dinner. While Sinema spoke to the crowd, they held up signs that said “Vote like a Democrat.”

Sinema began her political career as an unabashed left-winger, running for the Legislature Phoenix City Council under the Green Party banner before becoming a Democrat and winning her first legislative race in 2004. From there, she gradually migrated toward the center, and after she was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, she established herself as one of the most moderate Democrats in the chamber.

That trend has not only continued, but has become more pronounced, and many Democrats have become increasingly disenchanted with Sinema since she joined the Senate in January. She voted to confirm U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who has become one of congressional Democrats’ biggest nemeses. She opposed Democratic efforts to restore net neutrality rules. And she waffled on taking a position on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Sinema has also been targeted by outside interest groups for her stance on the net neutrality bill. In April, one group bought a billboard on Interstate 17 claiming Sinema was “corrupt” because she put the interests of telecom companies over her constituents.

If the Democratic Party approves a censure of Sinema, it won’t be the first time a political party here has taken aim at its most prominent U.S. senator. In 2014, the Arizona Republican Party censured U.S. Sen. John McCain for not being conservative enough. That censure called his voting record “disastrous and harmful” to both Arizona and the nation.

**This story was updated to include information on a second version of the motion to censure that comes only from the Progressive Caucus.**

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications. He has also served as the editor and executive director of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.