October 4, 2022


PHOENIX — Stephen Lumpkin, wearing a “Trump 2020” T-shirt at a Republican rally on the eve of the Arizona primary, wants the former president to run again in 2024 and believes, despite the evidence, he could even be “restored ». before the next election.

Lumpkin is also a fan of Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — and wants to see her vote against her party’s new bill to fund health care and clean energy with a 15 percent minimum corporate tax.

“I love it,” said Lumpkin, who lives in Glendale. “I would like to see Cinema stop it. It’s just another money grab, that’s all.”

Laura Schroeder, a 54-year-old physician in Phoenix who is backing Republican Donald Trump-backed Blake Masters for Senate, said she is counting on Cinema to help block the legislation after Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va. ., “p–sied out” and struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“He’s got to kill this thing,” Shredder said.

Arizona Democrats, aware of Sinema’s history of ousting her party, are nervous about the planned legislative action given the senator’s deciding vote in the evenly divided chamber, where all Republicans are expected to oppose the bill. And some are expressing their frustration with Sinema.

“It’s just amazing — the fact that she can’t come out and say a strong ‘yes’ to a bill that lowers health care costs, lowers prescription drug costs, makes big investments in climate change,” said Emily Kirkland, 30. years. Tempe-based consultant who works in progressive politics.

“There is no future in politics as a Democrat”

In Kirkland’s eyes, Sinema’s final vote on the bill will play a key role in her re-election prospects in 2024. “She really feels like the ball is in her court that way,” she said. “If she’s the only ‘no’ vote that dooms this deal, to me that says she knows she has no future in politics as a Democrat.”

Remarks like these capture the curious position Sinema finds herself in as she is pressed to greenlight or torpedo — or perhaps demand changes to — Democrats’ best hope of passing key elements of their agenda. In response, she remained silent on the bill, released Wednesday, with her office saying it was “reviewing the text” and waiting to see if it would be revised to meet Senate rules.

Asked about the pressures he faces, Sinema spokeswoman Hannah Hurley told NBC News on Tuesday: “Senator Sinema makes every decision based on one criterion: what’s best for Arizona.”

This decision is likely to further shape the public’s perception of Sinema, an enigmatic upstart centrist who has tried to build a reputation as a go-getter in this swing state. He sided with Republicans last year to reject a $15 federal minimum wage and block tax rate hikes on the wealthy. She has nearly severed ties with the state Democratic Party, which criticized her in January for rejecting a Senate rule change to pass a voting rights bill.

A former Sinema aide said the senator “never cared to piss off the Democratic base,” and even tends to enjoy criticism from within her own party. The former aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said Sinema is “stubborn in her positions” and enjoys appealing to more conservative Republicans. The former aide further pointed to campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and financial industries as a hint as to why Sinema might be conflicted about the new Democratic bill.

Since Sinema has not spoken publicly about the legislation, the former aide said, “it’s natural to wonder, who is he talking to? Who does she share her thoughts with?’

After speaking with Sinema on Tuesday, Manchin told reporters in Washington that the two had a “nice conversation” — but he did not predict how he would vote when the bill comes to the Senate floor, which Democrats intend to movement this week.

“He’s going to make a decision based on the facts. We’re exchanging texts back and forth,” he said. “She’s extremely bright. She works hard. She makes good fact-based decisions. And I rely on that.”

Cultivated image as a party-bucker

Luis Ávila, a volunteer with the group Primary Sinema, which is poised to support a challenge in 2024, claimed the senator will “absolutely” lose re-election if she kills the bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

“She’s an egomaniac who’s really trying to get money from special interests to do what’s best for her,” he said. “And that’s not why we elect people.”

But Avila said that if Cinema votes in favor of the bill, “of course we’ll make sure the voters know.”

“To regain the trust of the voters, she must show it with her actions,” he said. “And a very good one is what she has in front of her right now, with this deal.”

If it chooses to seek revisions, Cinema faces a different conundrum. The only provision of the legislation he is known to oppose — closing the carried interest tax deduction for investment fund managers — is a politically difficult position to defend. He told Democratic leaders last year that he wants to keep that tax break, according to multiple sources. But Sinema and her office have not publicly discussed her position.

Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist who advises the pro-Masters super PAC Saving Arizona, said “there are some people who are cautiously optimistic” about Sinema defeating the bill given her image as a partisan.

“I think if she supports it without any changes, she would be against that image,” Sourabian said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he said, ‘I’m in favor of 80% or 90%, but I want a change in the bill’ — so he can maintain that image.”



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