Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema walk to the Senate Chamber after a Democratic policy meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 5. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Grassroots activists and union groups are preparing to launch a flurry of protests later on Wednesday against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) — who they worry could single-handedly sink President Biden’s agenda.
“We’re committed to birddogging Kyrsten Sinema with her constituents until the very end,” Our Revolution Executive Director Joseph Geevarghese said in an interview. “What we want to show is that her constituents are very serious about wanting policies and activism and we're going to make her life unpleasant or uncomfortable until that happens.”
Our Revolution, the Bernie Sanders-inspired grassroots group, is joining Arizona union leaders, educators and other grassroots activists for a series of demonstrations outside of her Phoenix and Tucson offices over the next several days, according to a strategy outline first shared with POLITICO.
The planned demonstrations mark the next phase of an aggressive approach activists have taken to turn up the heat on Sinema, who has been a hold-out on the massive domestic spending plan that’s at the heart of Biden’s economic agenda.
Last week, the in-your-face tactic came to head when protesters followed Sinema into a bathroom and filmed her. On Monday, they followed her to Boston where she was to compete in the marathon before a foot injury kept her from participating.
Currently, activists on the ground in Arizona describe Sinema’s constituents bubbling over with frustration.
“They want somebody to listen and the fact that that’s not happening is infuriating,” said Yolanda Bejarano, national legislative and field director for Communications Workers of America. “The folks are not strangers to her. They helped get her elected.”
During the protests, the groups are heading a petition drive in an ongoing attempt to persuade Sinema to sign onto legislation that would strengthen unions and the right to organize.
Sinema’s office had no comment on the next round of protests. Asked about the invasive nature of some of the tactics, like following Sinema into the bathroom of Arizona State University where she teaches a master’s course, an aide pointed to a statement Sinema released last week.
In it, the senator said she supported the freedom of expression but was distressed over the position it put her students in, some of whom she said were also filmed inside the bathroom. Sinema also noted that she and her office had previously met with LUCHA Arizona, the immigration activists involved in the bathroom ambush.
“In the 19 years I have been teaching at ASU, I have been committed to creating a safe and intellectually challenging environment for my students. Yesterday, that environment was breached,” Sinema said in the statement. “My students were unfairly and unlawfully victimized. This is wholly inappropriate.”
In interviews, several of the activist groups said they could not see their members employing such tactics. But, they also didn’t apologize for the behavior, portraying it as an act of desperation by voters who cannot reach a public official.
“She ignores them and dismisses them,” Bejarano said. “When you dehumanize somebody like that, that's intolerable.”