What’s the message here from Bernie Sanders? Did he want to argue that only true socialists deserve bathroom privacy? Or that Republicans should really have heavily invested in popcorn stocks? Axios got their hands on an e-mail exchange between Senate Democrats that shows Sanders’ team demanding that any condemnation of Kyrsten Sinema’s progressive-activist stalkers include criticisms of her political stances, and oh my:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) withheld support for a joint statement condemning last weekend’s protests against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) because it also wouldn’t include a rebuke of her political views, Axios’ Alayna Treene has learned.
Why it matters: The move is emblematic of the hostility between the progressive and moderate members, who have been sparring over the cost and scope of President Biden’s agenda. Sanders wanted the statement to urge Sinema to drop her opposition to prescription drug reform, as well as Biden’s $3.5 trillion social safety net expansion.
Driving the news: An email exchange between Senate Democratic leadership aides, obtained by Axios, reveals Sanders withheld his name from a joint statement declaring protesters who followed Sinema into a bathroom — and filmed her while using the restroom — as “plainly inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Alayna Treene posted the screenshots of the e-mail exchanges last night:
Scoop: Bernie Sanders withheld support for a joint statement condemning last weekend's protests against Kyrsten Sinema because it also wouldn't include a rebuke of her political views, an email exchange leaked to @axios shows
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) October 7, 2021
Cory Booker, hardly a moderate in the caucus, organized the statement as a show of solidarity in the Senate Democrat caucus for Sinema and against these tactics. Instead of presenting a united front, Sanders’ comms director Mike Casca insisted on including language rebuking Sinema for not falling in line for progressive priorities on the reconciliation bill as well as “prescription drug reform.” When Booker refused, Sanders refused to participate — and also demanded that they remove “Senate Democratic Leadership Team” from the statement as well.
Er … is Bernie Sanders actually a Democrat? I thought that affiliation only existed in presidential cycles.
As Treene reports, this feeds directly into a growing resentment on Sinema’s part:
The move comes as those in Sinema’s orbit have privately vented frustration that her fellow Democratic senators and the White House haven’t more forcefully spoken out.
As if that wasn’t enough to stoke the family feud breaking out among Senate Dems, this play by progressives will create an open conflagration in Arizona:
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) has emerged as an early favorite to primary Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in Arizona as fury on the left grows over her opposition to the party’s sweeping reconciliation package.
As Democrats’ patience with Sinema runs out amid negotiations over the $3.5 trillion social policy and climate change package, Gallego, a 41-year-old in his fourth term representing a Phoenix-based district, has found himself at the center of an effort to oppose Sinema’s reelection in 2024.
Progressives are already laying the groundwork for a potential primary challenge, and one campaign, Run Ruben Run, has set its sights specifically on recruiting Gallego into the race.
For now, at least, many Democrats remain wary of the early efforts to challenge Sinema from the inside. They’re holding out hope that she reverses course and gets behind the reconciliation bill. But in conversations with The Hill, half a dozen Democratic activists and party insiders said that a primary is not off the table and pointed to Gallego as a top prospect if Sinema continues to hold out on the party’s key legislative priorities.
Arizona may be trending purple, but it’s not trending hard blue — and both Sinema and Mark Kelly know it. Speaking of which, where’s Mark Kelly on reconciliation? Does he really want to roll into his re-election bid next November having signed onto Bernie Sanders’ revolution, especially if self-professed progressive Sinema opposed it? Progressives might need to target both of their incumbents in Arizona, if they’re being consistent.
Even if Democrats only undercut Sinema by getting behind a Gallegos primary, that leaves Republicans with a great argument that Arizona Democrats are far too extreme to trust in any statewide office, including the US Senate. Sanders and his team seem more interested in purity than progress, and certainly more interested in dominance than collaboration even within their own caucus. Who benefits? Survey says …
Update: AJ Kaufman assesses Bernie’s real message to Sinema:
The message to Sinema from Bolshevik Bernie seems to be, “Shut up or the harassment shall continue.” …
Later, word broke that Sanders refused to condemn left-wing agitators who followed his Senate colleague into a bathroom and filmed her.
The Axios report said, “The move is emblematic of the hostility between the progressive and moderate members, who have been sparring over the cost and scope of President Biden’s agenda.”
These actions expose Bernie Sanders for the Stalinist scumbag he is.