Progressive groups launch $1.5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster

Progressive groups launch $1.5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster
© Greg Nash

A coalition of progressive organizations on Monday announced the launch of a $1.5 million television ad campaign targeting centrist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaThe infrastructure bill creates more need for workforce training Jesse Jackson arrested with voting rights protesters at Capitol Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate MORE (Ariz.) over her opposition to filibuster reform and a $15 per hour minimum wage. 

Twenty Arizona groups joined Just Democracy, a coalition of more than 40 “Black and Brown-led organizations” promoting democracy reform, in unveiling two hard-hitting ads targeting Sinema.

In one spot, titled “Words,” an Indigenous activist, a Black community activist and a Black pastor face the camera and ask why Sinema is “standing by” and “allowing Republican leaders to threaten our rights,” while footage of Sinema’s recent press conference with Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell warns Schumer cutting off debate quickly could stall infrastructure deal GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Texas) in Tucson, where Sinema reiterated her opposition to getting rid of the filibuster, flashes on the screen. 

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The ad’s narrators argue that while Sinema has said voting rights are fundamental to democracy, she hasn’t backed up that rhetoric with action by supporting getting rid of the filibuster, which Republicans will use to block S. 1, the For the People Act, on the Senate floor this week.

“These words are meaningless unless you back them up,” says Pastor Reginald Walton, the chair of civic engagement at the African American Christian Clergy Coalition.

A Black community activist identified as Channel Powe says “our right to vote is under attack,” while Walton says keeping the filibuster in place is “letting a Jim Crow relic keep us down,” comparing it to “political tricks used for years to block our rights.”

An Indigenous activist identified as Allie Young says Sinema is doing the Republicans’ “dirty work” by supporting their power to filibuster election reform legislation.

Sinema and centrist Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe infrastructure bill creates more need for workforce training The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Simone wins bronze with altered beam routine Jesse Jackson arrested with voting rights protesters at Capitol MORE (D-W.Va.) have been the Senate Democrats most vocally opposed to getting rid of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass most legislation. 

The television ads will run across Arizona and urge Sinema “to deliver on her campaign promise to protect voting rights and stand up for Arizonans,” according to a press release by the coalition.

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The ads call on Sinema to support scrapping the filibuster and to vote "yes" on proceeding to the For the People Act, which would promote online and automatic voter registration, expand opportunities to vote by mail, affirm a commitment of Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and make other reforms.

Sinema is a cosponsor of the For the People Act, which Democrats are advancing to counter dozens of laws passed by Republican state legislatures to limit early voting and mail-in voting.

The legislation will come to the Senate floor this week but Republicans say they will block it with a filibuster.

The second ad, titled “Thumbs Down,” hits Sinema for her vote against a $15 federal minimum wage in March.

“Kyrsten Sinema is failing us. Instead of voting for a living wage, she chose to hurt those who need help most,” the ad’s female narrator says as a montage of portraits of people of color flash by followed by footage of Sinema’s vote on the Senate floor, when she dipped her knees in a curtsey as she made a thumbs-down gesture. 

The ad also hits Sinema for missing the Senate vote on establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, showing images of Trump supporters rioting outside the Capitol and smashing the glass door of the House Speaker’s Lobby before flashing to an image of an empty Senate desk.

“As the GOP tries to silence our voices, she’s just standing by supporting a Jim Crow relic instead,” the narrator says while a clip of Sinema’s press conference with Cornyn earlier this month plays briefly. 

“You’re refusing to stand with us, Sen. Sinema. Why should we stand with you?” the narrator asks. 

-Updated 12:45 p.m.