Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he “would be surprised if Republicans tried to unseat” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) when she comes up for reelection in 2024, according to Politico.
Politico added that Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) has repeatedly asked Sinema to join the GOP.
But later on Wednesday, the Texas senator seemed to soften his stance. “I probably got out over my skis a little bit…what I was thinking about was the fact that she enjoys pretty favorable ratings among Republicans in her state,” Cornyn said, according to a tweet from NBC’s Frank Thorp. “Who knows what’s going to happen in 2024. And what happens here in the Senate…one day you’re working with somebody the next day you’re trying to defeat them in the election,” he added.
An OH Predictive Insights poll conducted in September showed that 40 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of Sinema, in a marked contrast with her fellow Arizona senator, Mark Kelly (D), whom 20 percent of Republican respondents in the same poll viewed favorably.
That poll included a sample of 882 registered voters in Arizona and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Sinema, along with fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), has garnered attention for expressing concerns about the party’s proposed $1.75 trillion social spending package.
As progressive and centrist Democrats have negotiated the content of the package, Manchin’s and Sinema’s arguments have played a significant role in bringing the price tag of the once $3.5 trillion package down. The moderate senators have yet to formally back the latest version of the package.
Their stance on the legislation — as well as other items on President Biden‘s agenda — has evoked frustration from other Democrats in Congress and elicited pressure from activists.
As a result of Sinema’s opposition to parts of the package, five members of her Veterans Advisory Council resigned last month.
“You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people. We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming,” the five members said in a letter at the time.
A representative from Sinema’s Communications Office noted in a tweet that Terry Araman, one of the veterans whose name was on the letter, claimed he had not received a copy of the letter and would not have agreed to it as written.
Despite her pushback against certain elements of her party’s agenda, Sinema has regularly voted with other Democrats in Congress on both bills and nominations. With the Senate currently divided evenly between Republican and Democratic senators and the tie-breaking vote belonging to Vice President Harris, Sinema’s seat in competitive Arizona could offer Republicans a valuable opportunity to reclaim a majority in the chamber.
GOP Senate candidates have continued to run against Manchin in West Virginia since he took office in 2010, in spite of his moderate politics.
Meanwhile, more left-leaning groups in Arizona are already organizing to recruit a primary challenger when Sinema faces reelection in 2024. Progressives are specifically considering Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) to oppose her, as the state has become more of a battleground since Sinema was elected in 2018.