The 39-year-old co-CEO of the LUCHA organization went door-to-door in the scorching heat of Arizona in 2018, killing the Democratic voters who helped Cinema be elected to the Senate. The work was difficult and the hours long, but Gomez and others deeply believed in the need to defeat Republican Martha Maxali, who had joined then-President Donald Trump.
Now Gomez has another label for the woman he helped choose: A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“What has happened is a complete slap in the face to our members, the work they have done and the change they are trying to make in our communities,” Gomez said. “If she is not part of the solution, she is part of the problem. And what we see is that she is being advertised as a bipartisan leader, but we have yet to see where the bilateralism stands. She has done nothing.”
In an evenly divided Senate, each individual senator has considerable power. But much of that influence has fallen on Democratic Party senators like Cinema, who are ready to focus their party on key priorities. The positioning has raised the senator’s profile – it is now often talked about nationally, as President Joe Biden’s administration has to court and is at the center of talks on a comprehensive infrastructure bill.
But at home, her refusal to support a number of democratic priorities – from getting rid of the filibuster to raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – has created deep distrust of her party’s base and even prompted groups like LUCHA to look for alternatives to run against it. at the Democratic Party Championship when it is re-elected in 2024.
“We are ready to support a viable candidate who is ready to really stand up for our communities,” Gomez said.
Asked if the Cinema challenge was worth the risk of losing his place to a Republican, Gomez did not flinch.
“We already have a Republican in this place,” she said.
From the Green Party to the senatorial centrist
Sinema, whose Senate office declined to comment on the story, is in part the product of a politically changing Arizona.
Meanwhile, Arizona – once a Republican bastion that produced similar to Barry Goldwater and John McCain – began to shift to the left, driven by a growing Latin population and voters moving into the desert from more liberal states such as California and Illinois.
While Cinema’s victory in 2018 signaled in many ways that political change was imminent, the future senator’s policy began to move toward the center during her tenure in the House. The Arizona Democrat has joined the Coalition of Blue Dogs, a group of Democrats who identify as centrists, and The Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group that poses as party mediators.
Cinema won the support of almost all Democratic groups before her Senate term, touted as top-level recruitment and someone who could win in a country that was not very sympathetic to Democrats. But she waged a careful campaign, avoiding many controversial issues and in the eyes of the National Democrats, bankering that national sentiment against Trump would be enough to win.
Her election, like many in 2018, has led to people who have never been involved in politics, prompted by Trump’s victory in the White House two years earlier and the feeling that deadlines could show that the country rejects his kind of guide. With that help, however, Cinema won, becoming the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate.
The fact that so many new political activists helped Democrats get elected in 2018, says Julie Erfl, an Arizona communications consultant and AZMirror columnist, is part of the reason many of Cinema’s one-time supporters feel missed.
“They are upset by Senator Cinema because they believe she is holding back the party and she is really interfering with some of these policies,” Erfle said, adding that she too is “a little puzzled” by the senator’s political position because there are very few signs. that Republicans are ready to reach the compromise that Cinema says it seeks.
Few numbers target liberal anger at the Cinema more than the Senate, a rule that requires 60 votes to pass most legislation. Many Democrats want to change the rule and allow most legislation to be passed by a simple majority. Cinema opposed these changes and recently sided with Texas Republican Senator John Cornin, saying Democrats were pushing for a “false choice” in the filibuster debate.
“The reality is that when you have a system that’s not working effectively – and I’d think most would agree that the Senate isn’t a very well-oiled machine, right – the way to fix that is to fix your behavior, not to removing rules or changing rules, and changing behavior, ”she told reporters in Texas as she circled the U.S.-Mexico border.
The response was swift, with Dan Pfeiffer, once a senior aide to President Barack Obama, saying Cinema’s statement was “telling every Democratic activist and donor at the local level who helped get her chosen to fuck up topics.”
Erfle described herself as “a little disappointed”.
“I really hoped she wouldn’t dig that far by saying ‘no’ (to change) the filibuster,” the columnist said. “I think there’s room for reforming the filibuster. I personally would like it to disappear, but if it doesn’t, at least reform to make it a real filibuster.”
Cinema’s problems are not unique to Arizona, with national democratic operators regularly and publicly calling on the legislature to take action.
This happened most viscerally earlier this year, when Cinema joined seven other Senate Democrats to vote against raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. Although the Arizona Democrat was part of a broader group, her voice, which she made with something like a joyful thumb down and a knee bend on the Senate floor, angered the Liberal Democrats, even if she said she was voting because she wanted to. the measure should be separated from the coronavirus relief bill.
Representative Mark Pocan, a progressive Democrat who represents Madison, Wisconsin, took a step forward by retouching a message published in 2014 by Cinema, where she promised to raise the minimum wage.
And at home, with Gomez and Lucha, the way he did it infuriated them.
“To see her bow and dance and move away so lightly,” Gomez said, “she sends this message to millions of Americans and Arizona people that she doesn’t care.”
In response, the Liberals are seeking to oust the same senator they helped elect in 2018, hoping to oust her from their Senate convent as a warning to other moderates.
“There was real excitement about her campaign. It looked like he was going to be a progressive tough and new kind of progressive fighter in the Senate,” said Corbyn Trent, who joined other progressives to launch PAC “No Excuses” as a start for the removal of both Cinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, another Democrat who supports the party’s priorities. “It’s especially frustrating.”
Super PAC is currently airing radio commercials in Arizona, accusing Cinema of “flip flops” and being “more committed to defending Washington’s inaction and dysfunction.”
“Right now, what she’s struggling to defend is her own political significance,” Trent told CNN. “She is mainly in a political campaign to protect the power of a single senator.”
But this was a photo the senator posted on Instagram in April that activists at home believe really captures the way she feels about them: Cinema was seen wearing a “F *** Off” ring while sitting of what seems to be a restaurant and sipping a drink.
“Her message to them,” Gomez said, “was clear from her ring.”