WASHINGTON – Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said she still believes the Senate should take up a higher minimum wage, but that didn’t keep critics from lighting into her after her Friday vote to keep the higher wage out of the latest pandemic relief package.
Sinema was one of seven Democrats who joined Republicans to reject an amendment to the American Rescue Plan that would have raised the wage to $15 an hour over five years. That move was backed by the House and the White House, but rejected in the Senate on procedural grounds.
A video of Sinema appearing to curtsy before giving a thumbs-down to the minimum wage amendment brought an angry outburst on social media. With hashtags like #letthemeatcake, opponents recycled a 2014 Sinema tweet where she called a higher minimum wage a “no-brainer,” and they issued calls for her to be “primaried” by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
But analysts are split on how much damage the vote, and the ensuing hubbub, will have on Sinema’s long-term political future.
Garrett Archer, a data analyst at ABC15, said that Sinema may have to face a “credible challenger” in the 2024 primaries, something unusual for the typically outnumbered Democratic Party in Arizona.
“That’s one of those weird things in this emerging Democratic Party in Arizona, it’s gotten much larger, it’s gotten even more diverse than it was when Kyrsten was first elected,” Archer said. “So, with this party, does it make it harder for Kyrsten to survive a primary challenge? We don’t know the answer yet.”
But Mike Noble, chief of research and a managing partner of OH Predictive Insights, said “the biggest thing” for Sinema is that she has the advantage of not having to face re-election until 2024.