Sen.Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) has been bashing Democrats over recent months after defecting from the party in December, according to a report.
Sinema has taken aim at Democrat colleagues, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as President Joe Biden’s former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Politico’s Jonathon Martin reported. While some of her jabs have come in private, others were before mainly Republican audiences as she dances between both parties heading into a potential 2024 reelection bid.
At one such event, Sinema told a group of GOP lobbyists at a fundraiser that she was “formally aligned with the Democrats for committee purposes,” but that was the extent of her caucusing with her old party, per Martin. She even dismissed the caucus’s weekly luncheons, which she stopped attending, as a buffet of narcissism.
“Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are,” Sinema said, according to Martin. “I don’t really need to be there for that. That’s an hour and a half twice a week that I can get back.”
At the same event, she indicated that she was no fan of Klain. Shortly after blasting the Senate for ending the judicial filibuster, she recalled a White House adviser pressing her to ensure all Democrats were present to vote to confirm Roopali DeSai to the U.S. Court of Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit.
Sinema emphasized to the staffer she was sure it would be a bipartisan vote and DeSai would easily get appointed, which ultimately happened.
When she revealed that Klain was the adviser, she brandished her middle finger before the audience, emphasizing her apparent disdain for the former chief of staff. He has since departed the post, which Jeff Zeints has taken.
Sinema can be even more ruthless in private conversations, per the report. Republican officials with knowledge of Sinema’s comments told Politico that she had spoken about Schumer with contempt, though Martin did not list specific examples.
As Sinema continues her venture away from the left, she has also made an effort to cozy up to Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), according to Martin, who posed the possibility of a backdoor deal between the pair in 2024 to keep Democrats and populist Republicans out of the seat.
McConnell is looking for a moderate Republican to run for Senate in Arizona, Martin noted. But as the Republican Party, especially in the Grand Canyon State, becomes increasingly populist and entirely abandoned establishment candidates in the midterms, he is unlikely to find someone who could survive a primary with the likes of Kari Lake or Blake Masters. In that event, McConnell could cut a deal with Sinema in a three-way race with a Democrat candidate to keep another Trump ally out of the Senate.
Such a scenario, which would be dependent on a number of factors, would entail the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the McConnell-aligned Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), agreeing not to target Sinema, according to Martin. In a hypothetical exchange, Sinema would caucus with Republicans if she were reelected.
While McConnell reportedly has apprehensions about trusting the independent, failed 2012 Republican presidential candidate Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told Politico he would like to see a deal cut between the two and suggested he would be open to endorsing Sinema down the line.
It is not far-fetched to suggest McConnell and his allies would opt not to support a populist candidate with the SLF if such a situation unfolded. After all, the super PAC reportedly pulled $9.6 million in advertising that was reserved for the Grand Canyon State’s U.S. Senate race as the Trump-backed Masters entered a crucial point in his campaign.
The SLF also pulled millions from the New Hampshire Senate race in the 11th hour, essentially abandoning Republican candidate Don Bolduc. At the same time, it poured some $9 million into the Alaska Senate race to help establishment Republican Lisa Murkowski (R-AS) stave off populist GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka, as Breitbart News reported.
“McConnell decided to spend millions of dollars attacking a fellow Republican in Alaska instead of helping me defeat Senator Mark Kelly,” Masters said during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight shortly before his race was called days after the election.
“Had he chosen to spend money in Arizona, this race would be over. We would be celebrating a senate majority right now,” he added.