News & Politics

Could Sinema Get a Free Pass from the GOP in 2024?

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Kyrsten Sinema has proven to be a controversial Democrat in the U.S. Senate, as she (along with Joe Manchin) has stood in the way of key elements of Joe Biden’s agenda.

While many on the left think she’s betraying her party, her resistance to Biden’s massive spending is undeniably an acknowledgment that if she wants to get reelected in Arizona—a state trending blue but still arguably a red-leaning swing state—she can’t be a rubber stamp for the radical left.

While she’s won the respect of Republicans and the ire of Democrats, Sinema tells Politico that there’s no chance she’d ever become a Republican.

“No. Why would I do that?”

That’s not to say Republicans haven’t tried. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) confirmed in an interview that “he’s pressed Sinema to join his party multiple times.”

“But,” Politico explains, “Sinema’s goal in an evenly split Senate isn’t to toss away Democrats’ majority, despite enduring months of criticism from progressives on her policy positions, rock-solid protection of the filibuster and yes, even her fashion choices.”

But here’s where things get interesting. According to Politico, Sinema’s dealmaking approach, which has earned her appreciation from Republicans, “could pay off politically.”

How so? According to Politico, “Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a prospective successor to McConnell, went as far as to say he ‘would be surprised if Republicans tried to unseat her’ in 2024 if she runs.”

This seems like an improbable scenario.

For starters, Sinema needs to survive a primary first. And she will be primaried. Arizona progressives have been disappointed with Sinema’s resistance to the massive spending bill as well as her lack of action on expanding voting rights, climate change, immigration reform, and other issues near and dear to the left, like ending the filibuster and increasing the minimum wage to $15/hour.

Related: Sinema Faces New Challenges From the Left

In September, the Arizona Democratic Party passed a resolution criticizing Sinema and warning her of a potential vote of no confidence. A new political action committee called Primary Sinema PAC has also been formed to fund local groups to pressure Sinema to support the radical leftist agenda as well as build support and a campaign infrastructure for an eventual primary challenger.

Could she be unseated in a primary? It’s possible. In Buffalo, New York, longtime incumbent Byron Brown was defeated in the Democratic primary earlier this year by Democratic Socialist India Walton. Sen. Joe Lieberman similarly lost the Democratic primary for his U.S. Senate seat in 2006. Both Brown and Lieberman ultimately won in the general election. Still, in both cases, a Republican challenger was unlikely to emerge victorious in those elections. Still, a Republican could easily defeat a more radical Democrat should Sinema lose her primary in 2024.

Will Republicans in Arizona really risk not running someone in 2024 just because they want to curry favor with Sinema? Don’t bank on it. Sinema may be considered a moderate, but according to various reviews of her voting record, she typically votes with the Democrats and is rarely at odds with her party. As Joe Biden’s poll numbers remain in the toilet, the environment should remain ripe for Republicans to win back Sinema’s seat in 2024.