Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday declined to say whether he would back Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) if she runs for reelection, though he praised her as an “excellent” senator.
“Look, Sen. Sinema is an excellent Congress member and Senate member, and she’s done a lot of good things here, but it’s much too early to make a decision,” Schumer told reporters when asked whether he would endorse Sinema over a Democratic challenger.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) on Monday formally announced his intention to run for the Democratic Senate nomination in Arizona, setting up a potential three-way race.
Sinema announced last month that she would leave the Democratic Party and register as an Independent. She hasn’t yet said whether she will run for a second term.
Other Senate Democrats on Monday dodged questions about whether they would back Sinema over the Democratic nominee in next year’s race, saying it was too early to endorse a candidate before Sinema announces her future plans.
Both Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Gary Peters (Mich.) declined this week to commit to backing Sinema.
McConnell on Tuesday appeared to revel over the dilemma faced by Democratic colleagues over whether to back Sinema or Gallego or another candidate in next year’s race.
“Sen. Sinema has been an important part in the United States Senate, the most important thing she did was to save the institution itself by protecting the filibuster,” he said. “She’s also been a significant part of the bipartisan agreements have been reached in the Senate,” referring to infrastructure and gun-violence bills passed in the 117th Congress.
“As to whether or not she chooses to run again is really her decision and I think it is big dilemma for the Senate Democratic majority to decide whether to support her or to support somebody running on the Democratic ticket,” he observed.
Updated 3:38 p.m.