Monday, May 21, 2018

In Election 2018 'The Democrats are coming.' But which ones and how Democratic?

“The Democrats are coming” and the Republicans know it. That’s the reporting by the AP in Democrats get giddy about a perennial target: Arizona featured in this morning’s Daily Star. There’s a lot of good news there. Here are some examples.

Democrats hope that a primary between three Republicans helps them get a shot at an open U.S. Senate seat that could determine which party controls the chamber. Tens of thousands of Arizona teachers are newly mobilized after recent walkouts that won them a 20 percent pay increase over three years and drew attention to the $1.5 billion in cuts the GOP-controlled state government has made to K–12 education since the Great Recession.

Republicans know they have their work cut out for them. “I think it’s going to be a force that we’re going to have to reckon with, for sure,” said former Gov. Jan Brewer. “A sleeping giant was awoke, they’re awake and alive and they’re out there and they want change,” she said of energized teachers.

Chuck Coughlin, a veteran GOP consultant in Phoenix, said the party’s greatest challenge will be in the Senate race. The Democrat running for the seat being relinquished by Sen. Jeff Flake, Rep. Kirsten Sinema, faces no major primary opposition and has been running ads for weeks introducing herself to voters as a common-sense centrist.

Whoa! Let’s explore that one by the numbers.

This last Saturday evening (May 20, 2018) at the Pima County Democratic Party Udall dinner, one of the featured speakers was US Senate candidate Krysten Sinema. Given that the dinner was a celebration of two awards and capped by a rousing speech by Tom Steyer, I had to wonder why Sinema, as opposed to any other candidate in any other race, was given time at the mic. I can’t remember what she had to say. But apparently the party faithful, including the DCCC, has anointed her. And all that reminded me of some reactions to Sinema’s announcement of her candidacy back in the Fall of 2017.

My own reaction to the announcement appeared on this blog on October 1st, 2017: Kyrsten Sinema wants to be a Senator. Here are reasons why she should not be.. Here’s a snippet.

… According to the FiveThirtyEight tracking, Sinema does vote exactly 50.0% of the time in accord with what Trump supports. See Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump. It is “An updating tally of how often every member of the House and the Senate votes with or against the president.” However, the more telling observation is the “Trump Plus/Minus Score” which is the “Difference between a member’s actual and predicted Trump-support scores.” Based on Trump’s share of the vote in the 2016 election, Sinema is predicted to have voted with Trump 28.6% of the time. Instead she voted with Trump 50% of the time. The difference is 21.5%. I sorted the entire House of Representatives on that difference score and found that only two Democrats were more extreme on that measure than Sinema. That is, she is the third highest of all 194 Democratic members (top 1.5%) of the House in terms of her support for Trump. …

UPDATE: As of today, May 20, 2018, Sinema has edged up a tad. She now votes 56.9% with Trump. The predicted score is 32.7% for a difference of 24.2%. She moved from the third highest to now the second highest of all 194 House Democrats in support of Trumpist positions putting her in the top 1%.

AZBlueMeanie had more to say about Sinema’s evolution in his September 30, 2017 post, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema to run for U.S. Senate.

I have never been a big fan of Representative Kyrsten Sinema, even when she was in the state legislature. My discomfort with her is that she appears to me to be “all show and no substance.” [_Scriber_: Now I don’t feel bad for not recalling her speech last night.] She is not much of a policy wonk, and has a slim legislative record. Of course, she has always been in the minority, so that is a contributing factor.

After her election to the House of Representatives, Sinema joined the conservative Democrat Blue Dog Coalition, and more recently the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus with her fellow Arizona congresswoman Martha McSally.

I’m not sure how one evolves from being a Ralph Nader Green Party “lefty” liberal to a conservative Blue Dog Democrat. That seems rather chameleon to me, adopting whatever one’s circumstances dictate in order to survive politically. That speaks to more ambition than a principled politician. But then, this is Arizona where this can be said just about every politician.

On the same day, Joel Feinman offered some scathing observations about Sinema.

The Three Problems with Kyrsten Sinema or: How Democrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Welcome the Apocalypse was posted on October 1, 2017 by Joel Feinman in the Politics section of his PimaLiberator blog. It resurfaced yesterday in an alert from my readers citing the essay on Feinman’s Facebook page (h/t Carolyn Chausee via Miriam Lindmeier). Below are excerpts from his blog, but you really must read the whole thing in which he cites chapter and verse about Sinema’s votes. Democrats’ forgiveness of them speak ill of the future of our party.

… social media is already ringing with calls for Democrats to unify behind and vote for Ms. Sinema in the general election next November, because “she’s the only real candidate” and “she’s better than (Republican).”

The problem with these pleas is that Ms. Sinema embodies everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party. Her candidacy, even or perhaps especially if successful, will remind Americans once again just how little Democrats seem to care about electing real, inspiring leaders to public office who will change our state and our country for the better.

Everyday seems to bring news that is worse than the day before. Mass shootings, war, unemployment, government-sanctioned white supremacy, environmental degradation. No person of reason can argue with a straight face that the social, economic, political, or environmental trend lines are positive. If the Democratic Party keeps excusing and supporting candidates like Ms. Sinema, in the hope that their election will somehow lead to a progressive political revolution the next election, or the next next election, we will proceed head-first into the abyss. If we do not today revolutionize our party and our politics, then one day soon the next election will be our last.

OK. I hear you say: Sinema is way better than any of her likely Republican combatants in the general election. As they say in Minnesota, Yah, Sure, You Betcha with all due sincerity. So was I reminded by Mrs. Scriber - who also was at the Udall dinner Saturday night. Here’s the evidence from 538. McSally votes 97.3% with Trump (vs. Sinema’s 56.9%). McSally is the 11th most Trumpian House Republican putting her in the top 5% of all House Republicans in terms of support for Trump.

But here’s another way to look at it. In terms of the "Trump Plus/Minus Score” which is the “Difference between a member’s actual and predicted Trump-support scores”, there are only 15 members of the House separating Sinema from McSally. And that is only a 3% difference.

So, do with this what you will. But remember 167. That’s the number of Democrats who were angered by some of then Rep. Ron Barber’s votes who stayed home in 2014 and thereby were complicit in getting McSally the CD2 seat. Which she kept in 2016. And which may now be her path to the Senate. And then the Presidency.

If you don’t like Sinema for Senate (and there are good reasons why you should not), what are you going to do come November? Are you (oh, hell, we) willing to accept McSally or Kelli Ward or Joe Arpaio over Sinema?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. We can't be idealists, seeking the perfect Democratic candidate who appeals to all aggrieved groups and calls for every item on the Progressive checklist. I'm a Democrat and I'd like all those things too.

    However we cannot repeat 2016 where we had a less-than-perfect Hillary, and Democrats stayed home instead of voting. We have been suffering the unbelievable hell with Trump every since. That's how it works when Democrats want the perfect candidate or nothing.

    This is exactly what Kelli Ward is hoping. Get a snootful of what she is saying to Republicans and how much they applaud her -
    Pima County Republicans Cheer Kelli Ward, who Jeers McSally -

    And if you don't like Sinema, who are you going to pick -- Deedra Abboud? She doesn't have a chance at all because she goes everywhere wearing her hijab. Maybe in some enlightened future where intolerance and racism don't exist, she could win the primary, but not this year.

    There's a lot to like in Sinema. Check out
    Kyrsten Sinema is the Democrat who can Beat McSally for US Senate -
    Kyrsten Sinema Stakes Out 5 Positions in US Senate Race -

    Check out her positions. I won't have any trouble voting for Kyrsten Sinema.

    - Women’s health and reproductive rights. “I’ve earned perfect scores and endorsements from choice groups, and will defend reproductive health care, including access to affordable birth control, against all threats in the U.S. Senate. It’s wrong for politicians to use women’s health to score political points.”

    - Equal pay for equal work. “Women in Arizona still make 83 cents for every dollar a man earns for the doing the exact same work. I’ll fight in the U.S. Senate for pay equity for women, so Arizona families can make ends meet.”

    - Energy conservation and natural resource management. “We must be good stewards of the earth to protect our natural resources and promote clean energy to boost our economy and mitigate the effects of climate change.”

    - LGBTQ rights. “LGBT rights are under attack. No one should live in fear of losing a job or home because of who they are or who they love.”

    - Smart investments in infrastructure and innovation. “In the U.S. Senate, I’ll work across party lines to create good-paying jobs, strengthen communities, and give middle-class families the tools they need to succeed.”