Friends and allies of Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are mystified by her maneuvering around President Joe Biden's legislative agenda, according to people speaking to The Daily Beast.
Sinema has faced backlash from progressive activists and politicians over her opposition to Democrats' $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. The legislation remains stalled in the Senate.
"I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion — and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona's economy and help Arizona's everyday families get ahead," Sinema said in July.
One of the people who spoke to The Daily Beast is Chris Herstam, a former Republican lawmaker in Arizona turned Democratic commentator who was a supporter of Simena's.
"She'd call and ask for money, but you could pick her brain and listen to her views about issues," said Herstam, who has donated thousands of dollars to Sinema. But now, things are different and they don't talk anymore after he posted some "political analysis" on Twitter.
Herstam told the Daily Beast that "when I talk to other individuals that consider themselves friends of hers, they told me they haven't spoken to her in over a year, and when they've contacted her to inquire why she's doing what she's doing politically, they don't get callbacks. She's clearly gone in a different direction."
Others spoke to the Daily Beast as well.
"A lot of people who have considered her a friend, or confidant, or someone she'd go to for donor support or political support, she won't talk to those people anymore," said Matt Grodsky, a former communications director for the Democratic Party of Arizona.
"She had a big network of people who liked her—establishment Democrats, progressives—everyone marveled at her ability to win in Arizona," said one Arizona Democratic strategist. "A lot of her longtime friends and confidants are no longer there. No one knows, to be honest, where she's at."
Sinema and another moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are seen by progressives as the biggest obstacles to eliminating the requirement that 60 votes are needed in the Senate to move legislation along.
While Manchin is a Democratic oddity in a solidly Republican state, Sinema represents a state that has been trending Democratic in recent years and which voted narrowly for Biden in 2020.
A member of Arizona's Green Party before becoming a Democrat, Sinema won election to Arizona's House of Representatives in 2004 and later the state Senate.
She was elected to the US House of Representatives in 2012 and won reelection in 2014 and 2016.
In 2017, she announced her candidacy for the US Senate seat held by Republican Jeff Flake, who subsequently retired from politics, and she eked out a narrow victory over Republican candidate Martha McSally.
Last year, she infuriated the progressive wing of the party by giving a literal thumb's down on the Senate floor to a proposal to raise the minimum wage.
Another source in Arizona told The Daily Beast that Sinema's Democratic allies "don't exist anymore."
"She's burned so many bridges with the allies she used to have," this source added.
With additional reporting from AFP