Kyrsten Sinema quits the Democratic Party and registers as an independent


Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is quitting the Democratic Party and registering as a political independent, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an exclusive TV interview.

“I signed up as an independent from Arizona. I know some people might be a little surprised by this, but actually I think it makes a lot of sense,” Sinema said in an interview Thursday with Tapper in his Senate office.

“I never fit in well in a party box. I never really tried. I don’t want to,” she added. “Removing myself from the partisan structure – not only is it true to who I am and the way I operate, I also believe it will provide a place to belong for many people across the state and country, who are also tired of partisanship.”

Sinema’s departure from the Democratic Party should not change the balance of power in the next Senate. Democrats will have a narrow 51-49 majority that includes two independents who caucus with them: the Sens. Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Angus King from Maine.

While Sanders and King caucus with Democrats, Sinema declined to explicitly say she would do the same. She noted, however, that she expects to keep her committee assignments — a signal that she does not plan to change the makeup of the Senate, since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer controls the slates of committees for Democrats.

“When I come to work every day, it will be the same,” Sinema said. “I will still come to work and hopefully serve on the same committees I have served on and continue to work well with my colleagues from both political parties.”

But Sinema’s decision to become a political independent formalizes what has long been an independent streak for the Arizona senator, who began her political career as a Green Party member before being elected as a Democrat to the House of Commons. United States in 2012 and in the United States Senate in 2018. Sinema prides herself on being a thorn in the side of Democratic leaders, and her new nonpartisan affiliation will further free her to take contrarian status in the Senate, although that raises new questions about how she — and Senate Democrats — will approach re-election in 2024 as the Liberals are already pondering a challenge.

Sinema wrote an op-ed in the Arizona Republic published on Friday explaining his decision, noting that his approach in the Senate has “upset supporters in both parties.”

“When politicians are more focused on denying victory to the opposition party than they are on improving the lives of Americans, the people who lose are ordinary Americans,” Sinema wrote.

“That’s why I’ve joined the growing number of Arizonans who reject partisan politics by declaring my independence from Washington’s broken partisan system.”

Sinema is up for re-election in 2024 and Arizona liberals are already offering potential challengers, including Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who said earlier this year that some Democratic senators had urged him to run against Sinema.

Sinema declined to answer questions about his re-election bid in the interview with Tapper, saying that just wasn’t his goal right now.

She also brushed off criticism she might face for the decision to quit the Democratic Party.

“I just don’t worry about people who might not like this approach,” Sinema said. “What worries me is continuing to do what is good for my condition. And there are people who certainly don’t like my approach, we hear a lot about that. But the proof is in the pudding.”

Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Sinema notified the White House that she was leaving the Democratic Party and that Schumer was also aware of Sinema’s explosive announcement before Friday morning.

The Biden White House offered a muted reaction Friday morning and insisted it expects to continue to have a productive working relationship with the senator.

A White House official told CNN the move “didn’t change much” other than Sinema’s own re-election calculations.

“We have worked effectively with her on many major bills, from CHIPS to the bipartisan Infrastructure Act,” the official said. The White House, for now, has “every reason to expect this to continue,” they added.

Sinema and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin have infuriated liberals at various times over the past two years, obstructing President Joe Biden’s agenda at a time when Democrats controlled the House, Senate and House White.

Sinema and Manchin have used their clout in the current 50-50 Senate — where any Democrat could derail a bill — to influence a host of legislation, in particular the massive Build Back Better bill of 3 $.5 trillion that Biden offered last year. Sinema’s objections to raising the corporate tax rate during the first round of talks on the legislation last year have particularly angered the Liberals.

While Sinema was blindsided by the surprise deal Manchin struck with Schumer in July on major health care and energy legislation, she ultimately backed the smaller spending package Biden signed ahead of the election. .

Manchin and Sinema have also opposed changes to Senate filibuster rules despite pressure from their Senate colleagues and Biden to change them. After a vote against the filibuster amendments in January, the Arizona Democratic Party’s executive council censured Sinema.

Sinema has been in the midst of several major bipartisan bills that have passed since Biden took office. She pointed to this record as evidence that her approach was effective.

“I’ve been honored to lead historic efforts, from infrastructure to preventing gun violence, protecting religious freedom, and helping LGBT families feel safe, CHIPs, and the Project science law to the work we’ve done on veterans’ issues,” she said. told CNN. “The list is really long. And so I think the results speak for themselves. It’s okay if some people aren’t comfortable with this approach.

Sinema’s announcement comes just days after Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock won re-election in Georgia, securing Democrats a 51st Senate seat that frees them from dependence on Vice President Kamala Harris’ deciding vote.

Sinema declined to answer questions about whether she would support Biden for president in 2024, and she also said she did not question whether a strong third party should emerge in the United States.


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