Thune Urges Independent Sen. Sinema to Caucus With Republicans

(AP Photo/Bob Christie)

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), one of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) best friends in the Senate, is urging the newly independent senator to caucus with Republicans.

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Sinema announced last month that she was leaving the Democratic Party and was registering as an independent. She also said at that time that she wouldn’t caucus with Republicans. But Thune points out that Sinema has worked closely with several Republicans to advance legislation and that if she’s going to run for re-election, it will make the race far less complicated.

On Monday, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego announced that he was running in the Democratic primary. This creates a dilemma for both parties as most national Democrats are no more eager to challenge an incumbent senator from their own party than Republicans want to take down a potential ally.

“Obviously we’d love to have her become a Republican or at least caucus [with] Republicans. That would make things a little more clear,” Thune said.

The Hill:

Senate Democrats on Monday also dodged questions about whether they would support Sinema’s reelection bid if she winds up in a race against Gallego or another Democratic nominee.

“Too soon. Too soon,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Gary Peters (Mich.) on Monday acknowledged that Gallego is running but did not say whether he would endorse him or another Democrat against Sinema.

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Sinema has gotten into trouble with national Democrats over her stubborn refusal to vote for trillion-dollar “pandemic relief” bills that she felt weren’t necessary. Ultimately, she and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted for a much-slimmed-down package of goodies.

But it was her failure to give the federal government veto power over local elections and her insistence that the filibuster remain part of Senate procedures that caused NARAL and Emily’s List — two prominent women’s rights groups — to pull their support.

Related: Left and Lefter: Progressive Ruben Gallego Going After Sinema’s Senate Seat

Gallego, a veteran and member of the radical Progressive Caucus, will be running uphill in a state that is still Republican. And even if Sinema runs, there are several candidates from the GOP who would be strong challengers.

CNN:

Several Republicans are considering running for Sinema’s seat. Defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is considering a Senate bid, according to a source close to Lake.

Lake lost the Arizona governor’s race in November to Democrat Katie Hobbs by less than 1 point and has not conceded, falsely claiming as recently as Sunday that she won the election. An Arizona judge in December rejected Lake’s lawsuit attempting to overturn her defeat, concluding there wasn’t clear or convincing evidence of misconduct. Lake, a serial promoter of election lies who denies the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, has appealed the court’s decision. The source told CNN that Lake will not make a final decision on a Senate run until after her court case is completed.

Republican Blake Masters, who lost a challenge in November to incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly by almost 5 points, is also “strongly considering” running for Senate in 2024, according to a spokesperson. Masters has also denied the outcome of the 2020 election but, unlike Lake, conceded his race to Kelly.

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Then-Gov. Doug Ducey backed Karrin Taylor Robson, who Kari Lake defeated in the gubernatorial primary, and some in Arizona feel that the Senate is a better fit for her.

As I’ve written before, the pro-choice Sinema would not be comfortable in the Republican Party. But stranger things have happened in Congress, and it’s not out of the question that she’d make the jump to the GOP.

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