On its own petty and hopelessly narcissistic and desperate terms, Sinema going No Labels makes sense as the only possible way of saving her Senate seat:
The biggest loser of the 2022 election other than Donald Trump was Kyrsten Sinema. The Arizona senator and now-former Democrat desperately needed Democrats, especially fellow senator Mark Kelly, to lose. Only such a setback would make the party desperate enough to tolerate her continued presence. Kelly’s reelection made it certain that Sinema would face, and lose, a primary challenge in two years.
Sinema’s declaration of independence from the party is a ploy to avoid the primary and keep her job. Democrats could still run a candidate against her in the general election, of course, but they would face an extremely difficult prospect of winning. So her calculation in leaving the party is that she can bluff it into sitting out the campaign altogether, endorsing her as the lesser-evil choice against the Republican nominee.
It may work. If it doesn’t, it is because Sinema has underestimated just how much ill will she has generated across the breadth of the Democratic Party by reconceptualizing her role as the personal concierge of the superrich.
Her response of leaving the party and running as an independent is being hailed as brilliant. And it is true that she has given herself a chance to survive.
But it would be more accurate to say she is playing a game of chicken. Democrats know that if they run a candidate against her in the general election, they will probably lose. But Sinema also knows that she would absolutely lose in that scenario. Indeed, in a three-way race, Sinema would almost certainly finish a very distant third.
I’m pretty strongly inclined to call her bluff here:
- Contrary to what she may think, she’s no Murkowski or Lieberman, an internally popular candidate with a lot of crossover appeal (explicable or not) in their states. She is highly unpoplar with virtually every constituency in the state. Which isn’t surprising, since her brand of Silicon Valley libertarianism has essentially no mass constituency.
- Because of this, not only would polling reveal quickly that she has no chance in a 3-way race, she would be an exceptionally weak general election candidate as the de facto Democrat. The only scenario in which she had any chance would be if the AZ GOP ran Blake Masters or a similarly creepy kook again, and in that case she might be as likely to draw what little support she can get from Republicans as Democrats.
- Given the 2024 map, Arizona is very unlikely to be a tipping point state, and SInema as Senator 47 is completely useless. Moreover, in any nationwide context in which Democrats maintain control of the Senate, a Dem candidate would presumably have a very good chance even in a 3-way race.
I say run a real Democrat and dare Sinema to completely humiliate herself.
If the ratfucking campaign that brought us the Iraq War is the ultimate tragedy of Nader-style “take the politics out of politics” onanism, Sinema is the farce.