by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
How scared is Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer of the progressive base? Scared enough to risk his majority and the entire Democratic legislative agenda.
In an interview this week, Schumer would not say “if he would stay neutral or support Manchin and Sinema if they face primary challengers in the next cycle,” CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere and Manu Raju report.
“I am focused on 2022, getting things done, and winning the election on 2022,” Schumer told CNN. “I’m not at all focused on 2024 right now, and neither should anyone else be. That’s just how you lose in 2022.”
Schumer’s refusal to push back against Democratic primary challenges to the relatively moderate Democrats from West Virginia and Arizona in 2024 is stunning for at least three reasons.
First, Schumer is majority leader in a 50–50 Senate only because Manchin was reelected in 2018 in a state that overwhelmingly voted for Trump — twice. He’s only the majority leader because Sinema won her seat in 2018 in a state that went for Trump in 2016 and gave Biden only the narrowest of victories in 2020 (one-third of one percentage point). Senate majority leaders usually try to do everything they can to support their most vulnerable members — but Schumer is doing the opposite.
The Left’s anger toward Sinema and Manchin is off the charts because Schumer raised the stakes on voting legislation before holding a doomed vote on changing the Senate’s 60-vote rule — a rules change Schumer knew well in advance that Manchin and Sinema would never support. The move was a transparent attempt to pin failure on Manchin and Sinema, and now Schumer can’t say whether he’d oppose primary challengers running against the duo.