Powerful Democratic Consultants Split With Kyrsten Sinema
The newly independent Arizona senator is set to lose access to Democratic voter data, complicating her path to reelection. If…
The newly independent Arizona senator is set to lose access to Democratic voter data, complicating her path to reelection.
If Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) decides to run for reelection next year, she’ll do so without the help of the big-name Democratic ad makers and pollsters who helped her win her Senate seat in 2018, and without access to the voter database maintained by the Democratic Party.
NGP VAN, which manages Democratic voter data, is set to cut off Sinema’s access at the end of January, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. The ad makers who worked with her in 2018, Dixon/Davis Media Group, have split with her campaign. Two other Democratic sources said polling firm Impact Research made the same decision.
Both Dixon/Davis and Impact have the type of pedigree you would expect for firms that work with senators in key races. Dixon/Davis worked on President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, while Impact Research does polling for President Joe Biden. Both firms made the decision before Sinema’s recent party switch.
A spokesperson for Sinema did not respond to an email seeking comment. A spokesperson for Bonterra Tech, the parent company of NGP VAN, declined to comment.
The decisions make Sinema’s road to reelection even steeper and more complicated. Polls of Arizona’s electorate show that her efforts to ingratiate herself with Republicans have mostly backfired electorally, alienating Democrats en masse without building up an equivalent base of independent or GOP voters. Two Democratic congressmen from the state, Reps. Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton, are both looking at runs for the party’s nomination, and a three-way battle with a Republican candidate seems likely.
Sinema does not lack selling points: While her approach doomed huge segments of Biden’s agenda, including many of his proposed tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations, she also has played major roles in crafting popular bipartisan deals on same-sex marriage, gun control and infrastructure funding. Successfully selling those accomplishments to an electorate is where pollsters and ad makers come in.
It’s unclear where Sinema might turn to run a reelection campaign. She and her staff have avoided any talk of reelection, saying she has not yet made a decision about a 2024 run. But any Democrat who works with her is likely to face fierce pushback from progressives who argue Sinema’s actions have imperiled a key Senate seat.
“Sinema abandoned the Democratic Party because she knew she couldn’t win a primary after spending years obstructing popular reforms and alienating her own voters,” said Sacha Haworth, who served as communications director at the start of Sinema’s 2018 campaign and now works for a group aiming to defeat her. “She chose to forfeit the Democratic Party infrastructure, so it’s only right that no Democratic staffer, consultant or vendor should work with her.”
Losing access to the Democratic Party’s voter data is also likely to be a headache for Sinema, since it will make it more difficult to target voters for digital advertising, mailers and door-knocking.
Other Democrats who work with Sinema privately signaled to HuffPost they are waiting for signals from top national Democratic leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Biden, about how to handle the newly independent senator.
Many D.C. Democrats would prefer to find a way to back Sinema for reelection — from a legislative perspective, it would make their lives far easier if they could rely on her to back Biden’s judicial selections and in forthcoming fights over funding and the debt limit — but fear she could be running third in a three-way battle, which would make it difficult to convince either Stanton or Gallego to stay out of the race.