Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who prominently backed Kyrsten Sinema’s election to the Senate, is now saying she doesn’t belong in office anymore unless she helps abolish the filibuster.
Woods, a former Republican, was attorney general from from 1991-1999 and worked for the late Sen. John McCain (R). In 2018, he switched parties and became a Democrat.
That year, he also endorsed Sinema, and the campaign even featured him in one of its ads saying, “We need more people who are not just politicians who will say or do anything to get elected.”
But on Friday, Woods was much less enthusiastic about Sinema in comments to HuffPost. He said he feels very strongly about passage of H.R. 1 ― Democrats’ For the People Act, a democracy reform and voting rights bill ― and believes the Senate must abolish the filibuster, which is something Sinema has said she is adamantly against. (Sinema is, however, a co-sponsor of the For the People Act.)
“I do think that Sen. Sinema and every senator should support ending the filibuster for the voting rights bill,” he said, adding, “To keep the Jim Crow filibuster while losing some of these basic voting rights that are central to our democracy is preposterous.”
“Sen. Sinema should know that, so should Sen. Manchin,” Woods said, referring to West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, who also opposes removing the filibuster. “At the end of the day, I’m very hopeful that they’ll come around and do the right thing. But if they don’t, then I don’t think they belong in the Senate anymore.”
Woods had also tweeted his thoughts about the filibuster on Thursday, without directly naming Sinema.
Sinema’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Until now, Woods has been a strong defender of Sinema. In March, when Sinema received widespread Democratic criticism for voting against a $15/hour minimum wage with an exaggerated thumbs down, Woods stood by her.
But this week, Sinema reiterated her refusal to abolish the filibuster, which remains a major impediment to passing much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
“It is a tool that protects the democracy of our nation,” Sinema said Tuesday in Tucson, at an event with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “Rather than allowing our country to ricochet wildly every two to four years back and forth between policies, the idea of the filibuster was created by those who came before to create comity and to encourage bipartisanship and work together.”
But as New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg noted Friday, Sinema’s history is inaccurate.
“The filibuster was created by mistake when the Senate, cleaning up its rule book in 1806, failed to include a provision to cut off debate. (A so-called cloture rule allowing two-thirds of senators to end a filibuster was adopted in 1917; the proportion was reduced to three-fifths in 1975.) The filibuster encouraged extremism, not comity: It was a favorite tool of pro-slavery senators before the Civil War and segregationists after it,” Goldberg wrote.
Last week, Republicans successfully filibustered their first piece of legislation in the Biden administration. They blocked the formation of a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.