Jan 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Sinema targeted with $1 million ad buy

A veteran urges Senator Sinema to end the filibuster and pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

Ad screenshot. Courtesy: Defending American Democracy

The bipartisan group Defending American Democracy is spending $1 million on a TV ad targeting Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Sinema, along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), has rejected proposals to lower the filibuster threshold to pass election reform legislation with only Democratic votes — while voting rights is front and center for the Democratic Party.

What we're watching: The ad focuses on Sinema’s resistance to changing Senate rules to advance the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act over unified GOP opposition.

  • The ad, which airs nationally and locally in Arizona starting Thursday, features a former Green Beret who recently served on one of her advisory councils.
  • The veteran says to viewers, "Sen. Sinema took an oath, too, but refusing to protect the right to vote undermines everything she swore to do."
  • "Sen. Sinema: Do your duty. Protect our democracy."

The big picture: Senate Democrats plan to vote on broader election reforms by Jan. 17 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to hold a vote to change the Senate rules if Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leads another GOP filibuster.

  • But doing so in a 50-50 chamber would require Sinema and Manchin's agreement to pass the legislation on a party-line vote.
  • So far, neither has been open to getting rid of the 60-vote threshold, making them targets of progressive activists on the national level and in their home states.

Both senators are open, however, to reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887 — an idea some Republicans are getting behind, as Axios reported Tuesday.

  • They're also among a bipartisan group of eight senators that met Wednesday to discuss a range of election issues.
  • They include the option to update the outdated bill to clarify the role the vice president and Congress play in certifying presidential elections.
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