Arizona Democrats called on Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly to help eliminate a controversial procedural hurdle that allows Senate Republicans to block key legislation.
At its state convention on Saturday, where hundreds of Democratic foot soldiers gathered virtually, the Arizona Democratic Party also seized on the spectacle of the Republican-led review of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election.
Local and national party leaders condemned the review as a desperate and extreme attempt to defy the will of voters and upend democracy, using it as a rallying cry to organize ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, where they hope to hold onto a U.S. Senate seat and make gains statewide and at the GOP-controlled state Capitol.
“They’re running this audit trying to undermine a free and fair election,” party chair Raquel Terán said. “The Arizona GOP is out of touch. Elected Republicans are letting the fringes of their party drive their agenda.”
State committee members passed three resolutions, which are not binding but express the will of the party.
One formalized the party’s position on the U.S. Senate’s legislative filibuster, which requires 60 votes for the chamber to act on most legislation. The filibuster is a major obstacle to advancing Biden’s agenda in the tied Senate, where Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote.
The “We Call For An End To The Filibuster” resolution called on Sinema, D-Ariz., and Kelly, D-Ariz. to declare support for ending the filibuster and voting to eliminate it from Senate rules.
Terán said she appreciates the senators’ desire to work with Republicans, “but we need to make sure that every option is on the table to make sure that we get Joe Biden’s agenda passed.”
Despite facing enormous pressure from both Democrats and Republicans on the filibuster, Sinema has said she would not reverse her position on keeping filibuster.
“There’s a lot of talk about, ‘Oooh, the pressure is mounting and the pressure is out there,’” Sinema said in a recent interview with The Arizona Republic’s political podcast, The Gaggle.
“But as everybody knows, I don’t bend to pressure from either party, and I just stay focused on what I think is right, and delivering for Arizonans.”
Kelly, who faces re-election in 2022, has not taken a public position on whether he supports eliminating the filibuster.
Democrats also passed resolutions that urge the senators to “do whatever it takes” to pass legislation before Labor Day that seeks to expand voting rights and labor rights.
Both senators support the For The People Act, which would provide sweeping expansion of voters’ rights and election security. They have also previously expressed support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, an update of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has not yet been introduced in the Senate this year.
Neither senator has signed onto the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021, which almost certainly will not advance in the Senate, given the filibuster. The act would reform labor laws and give workers more power to organize after decades of setbacks to unions.
During the hours-long meeting, party activists also heard pre-recorded video messages from Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who commended Democrats for seeking to block the Senate GOP’s ballot recount.
“Your efforts have exposed this dangerous process for what it is,” Abrams said. “… Just a few years ago, no one would have believed that your state and my state would be the states to defeat Donald Trump or that Arizona would have been the one to set the pace. But together, we flipped both of our U.S. Senate seats from red to blue. We worked hard and now we have to work even harder.”
Saturday’s gathering offered a preview of Democrats’ strategy in the months ahead, where they will promote the White House’s coronavirus economic recovery package and infrastructure proposal while highlighting Arizona Republicans’ continued loyalty to Trump.
Arizona Senate Republicans have cast the ongoing audit as a way to restore confidence in the 2020 results by pro-Trump voters and help state lawmakers determine if they should pass new election laws.
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