Sinema calls Democrats ‘old dudes eating jello’

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Sen Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona does not have kind words for her Democratic colleagues as her political future hangs in the balance.

Jonathan Martin of Politico reported on Thursday that, since her defection from the Democratic Party at the start of the year, Ms Sinema has been courting Republican donors and regaling them with unflattering portrayals of her former party members.

“Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are,” Ms Sinema told a laughing group of Republican lobbyists in Washington earlier this year about why she had stopped attending Democratic caucus luncheons. “I don’t really need to be there for that. That’s an hour and a half twice a week that I can get back.”

According to Mr Martin’s reporting, Ms Sinema had yet more to say.

“The Northerners and the Westerners put cool whip on their Jell-O and the Southerners put cottage cheese,” she said.

Ms Sinema has reportedly criticised Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in more personal terms, all while courting the support of Republican leader Sen Mitch McConnell.

Per Politico’s reporting, Ms Sinema has also bristled at comparisons between her and Sen Joe Manchin of West Virignia largely because she has more corporate-friendly tax policy beliefs than he does. Ms Sinema is reportedly so close with private equity interests that one Biden administration official told Mr Martin that the best way to win her support for agency nominees is to get private equity executives to lobby her.

Ms Sinema’s relationship with the Democratic Party and its voters rapidly deteriorated during the first two years of the Biden administration. Along with Mr Manchin, Ms Sinema worked to stall, block or weaken several major pieces of Democratic legislation and refused to eliminate the filibuster to allow the Democrats to pass legislation to protect abortion access.

Ms Sinema also steadily drew rebukes for her demeanour, starting when she enthusiastically voted against a $15 federal minimum wage on the Senate floor.

In December, Ms Sinema announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent. Shortly thereafter, Rep Ruben Gallego announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Ms Sinema’s Senate seek next year — meaning that Ms Sinema would likely have to win a competitive three-person race as an Independent if she were to be re-elected.

Ms Sinema has not yet declared whether she will even seek re-election next year, though the scale of her fundraising efforts over the last several months suggests that she is gearing up for a potential run.

Ms Sinema continues to hold Democratic committee assignments in the 51-49 Senate in the meantime, with many Democratic members taking care not to publicly criticise her and prompt a potential defection to the Republican Party.

In private, however, Democratic members appear to be taking less care to hide their true feelings about the first-term senator: “She’s the biggest egomaniac in the Senate,” one member told Mr Martin earlier this year.