Kelly backs fellow Arizona Democrat Sen. Sinema after state party censures her for filibuster vote

Sinema campaigned for Kelly in 2020 and has voiced support as he heads into his next election.

Updated: January 26, 2022 - 12:19pm

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Sen. Mark Kelly is defending fellow Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema following her censure by their state party for voting with Republicans to preserve Senate filibuster rules, a decision that effectively derailed Democrat-backed election overhaul legislation.

The Arizona Democratic Party's executive board announced its decision to censure Sinema after a private gathering on Saturday, ahead of an annual gathering of state committee members.

"Senator Kelly does not support the censure," a spokesperson for the lawmaker on Tuesday told the Arizona Republic. "While they came to different decisions on this vote, he looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Sinema on Arizona priorities, as they have done during his first year in the Senate to pass critical infrastructure investments that will create good-paying jobs." 

The vote on the filibuster rules last week was 52-48 in the evenly divided Senate.

Sinema has been in hot water with party leaders since voting against changing the filibuster rules, thereby preventing her party from passing its sweeping legislation to federalize election rules. Though she repeatedly clarified that she supported the voting legislation, she has been steadfast about not supporting the weakening of the filibuster. 

Support from Kelly, a freshman senator up for reelection in November, could help tamp down party backlash against Sinema, which has included open talk of a primary challenge in her next race.

In the past, Kelly has defended Cindy McCain, the wife of late GOP Sen. John McCain, and former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake after they were censured by the Arizona Republican Party.

Last year, the astronaut-turned-politician, lashed out at the GOP, calling their move to censure McCain "embarrassing and shameful."

Sinema campaigned for Kelly in 2020 and recently said she would "be there with him, helping him every step of the way" with regard to his upcoming race.

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