The Arizona Democratic senator is breaking palpably with the president as he pursues a full six-year term this fall in a once-reliable red state that’s recently become fertile territory for Democrats. Though Kelly has at times sought distance from the president on the border and economic issues during his 16 months in Congress, his recent run of schisms with the White House demonstrates that it’s not just Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) calling her own shots in the Copper State. Though Democrats are used to Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) bucking them, Kelly’s vote against David Weil to be wage administrator for the Labor Department shocked party leaders, according to one Democratic senator supportive of the nomination. And his criticism of Biden’s approach to the southern border only grew louder after the White House reversed the Trump administration public-health order known as Title 42, potentially clearing the way for more immigrants seeking asylum to enter the country. “I tell them when I think they’re not getting stuff right, like in this case. There’s no plan,” Kelly said in an interview, referring to the Title 42 rollback. He added that he’s talked extensively to the White House and Homeland Security Department: “They understand that this is a real concern and they’re putting together a plan, I just haven’t seen a plan that looks sufficient.” His stance could be a practical problem for Democratic leaders. GOP senators are looking to force votes on Title 42 during the coming debate on a new Covid aid package, votes they could win if there are enough like-minded Democrats. For most of this Congress, Kelly’s been seen as the more progressive Democrat from Arizona — at least compared to Sinema — even as he faces one of Senate Democrats’ toughest reelection campaigns in the fall. He didn’t get in the way of the abandoned “Build Back Better” plan, voted to change chamber rules to pass elections reform and has reliably supported Biden’s nominees. Still, he’s occasionally backed GOP efforts like overturning the public transit mask mandate and barring undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks. Now Kelly is doing more than taking down Weil, publicly protesting Biden’s border policy and pushing alongside Manchin for more fossil fuel exploration. He’s also raising concerns about Biden’s ambassador to India nominee Eric Garcetti and calling for a gas tax holiday. Kelly explained his opposition to Weil as fairly simple: that his constituents, particularly business owners, had concerns about the nominee. “He just didn’t seem like a good fit for the job,” the senator said of the failed pick. Kelly, Manchin and Sinema all voted against Weil’s nomination on the floor — the first Biden pick to be defeated so publicly. But Kelly’s vote especially is drawing plenty of scrutiny among progressives. “He’s been hostile to working class issues,” said Faiz Shakir, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) adviser and 2020 campaign manager, referring to pro-union efforts in Congress and in Kelly’s state. “You’d have a hard time convincing me that being on the correct side of these issues is somehow detrimental to winning a statewide election in Arizona. Draw your own conclusions about what’s going on there.” However, Ezra Levin, the co-founder of progressive group Indivisible, said liberals “have understood occasional breaks” that vulnerable Democrats like Kelly have to take from Biden, still trusting that the senator is “going to be there in big moments.” “Indivisible folks in Arizona love what t . . . read the full article here.