Sanders open to supporting primary challengers against Manchin and Sinema

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Julia Nikhinson - Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) thinks there’s a “good chance” Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) will face challenges in future Democratic primaries and says he would be open to supporting their opponents.  

Asked about the likelihood of Manchin and Sinema being challenged by other Democrats, Sanders indicated he thinks “there’s a very good chance” of that happening, though he observed “it’s up to the people of those states.” 

Asked if he would be open to supporting a challenger, Sanders answered bluntly: “Yeah, I would.”  

Sanders’s comments reflect growing frustration with the two centrist Democrats among progressive lawmakers who are still angry over their roles in whittling down and stalling President Biden’s sweeping climate and social spending bill.  

Manchin’s and Sinema’s staunch opposition to reforming the Senate’s filibuster rule to pave the way for voting rights legislation has further exasperated Sanders and other progressives.

Sanders argued that Republican-controlled state legislatures “are moving aggressively to suppress the vote and to impose extreme gerrymandering, among many other things.”  

“Anybody who believes in American democracy has got to vote to enable us to go forward with 50 votes to suspend the filibuster, at least on this vote,” he said. “I hope we have 50 votes. If we don’t, they’re going to have to go home and explain to their constituents.”  

During negotiations over the Build Back Better Act, Sanders repeatedly voiced frustration with Manchin’s opposition to expanding Medicare benefits and Sinema’s reluctance to give Medicare wide-ranging power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Sinema eventually signed off on a scaled-down proposal to make prescription medications more affordable.  

Other prominent Democratic progressives have dodged questions about primary challenges against Manchin and Sinema.   

“We will address that when we get past next week,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told “CBS Mornings” when asked whether Manchin and Sinema should face primary opponents.  

Tags Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema
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