Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday he was open to supporting the main Democratic challengers of the senses. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), the two Democrats who joined the Republican Senate in blocking major legislation.
“You have, unfortunately, two Democrats who are choosing to work with Republicans over the President, and who have sabotaged the President’s efforts to meet the needs of working families in this country,” Sanders told the host. Dana Bash, echoing the frustrations he expressed about Manchin and Sinema refusing to vote to change Senate rules that would allow Democratic-backed bills – such as voting rights and social spending – to be adopted.
When asked if he would help campaign against Manchin and Sinema in their upcoming Democratic primaries, Sanders did not object to the idea.
“Well, that’s a long way to go. They won’t be in place until 2024,” Sanders said. “But if there were strong candidates in those states who were willing to stand up for working families, who understand that the Democratic Party has to be the party of the workers who take on the big money interests – if those candidates were there in Arizona and West Virginia, yes, I would be happy to support them.
Manchin is unlikely to face a progressive challenger who would gain ground; Donald Trump has lifted West Virginia by nearly 39 percentage points in 2020. But Sinema faces a different political dynamic, with several groups already fundraising for his eventual main challenger. Donors threaten to abandon it and young activists go on a second hunger strike to protest Sinema’s legislative inaction.
On Saturday, Arizona Democratic Party leaders responded to his reluctance to advance legislation by voting to censure Sinema, a symbolic condemnation of the woman who three years ago won the Democrats’ first Senate election in Arizona in a generation. After repeatedly blocking voting rights legislation that Democrats believe is necessary to preserve democracy, Sinema has increasingly isolated herself from many of her party’s most influential officials and donors.
Sanders on Sunday called for censorship “quite” appropriateparticularly in the context of his role in preventing the Senate from passing suffrage legislation.
Sanders lambasted both senators last week after they joined Republicans in voting against changing Senate filibuster rules, slamming the door on Democrats’ latest effort to pass a voting rights bill. On Sunday, he repeated his exhaustion over the party’s nearly six months of negotiations with Manchin and Sinema, which have yielded virtually no progress.
“We need to introduce important bills that impact the lives of working families directly on the Senate floor,” said the Vermont senator. “And if the Republicans want to vote against lower prescription drug costs, climate change, home health care, whatever – and if the Democrats, two Democrats, want to join them, let the American people see what is happening.