Sinema leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent
Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has decided to leave the Democratic Party and register as an independent. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sinema claims she has, “never fit neatly into any party box” and she further said that the move is, “true to who I am and how I operate, I also think it’ll provide a place of belonging for many folks across the state and the country, who also are tired of the partisanship.” Sinema’s decision is unlikely to change the balance of power in the Senate, Democrats will maintain a slim 51-49 majority that includes two independents who caucus with them: Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. While Sanders and King formally caucus with the Democrats, Sinema declined to say that she would do the same. She did state that she aims to keep her committee assignments, which signals she does not plan to upend the Senate composition. Sinema has long taken pride in her tendency to oppose Democratic leadership; her new nonpartisan affiliation will allow her to continue her independent streak within the legislature. Potentially the most important implication of Sinema’s announcement will come in 2024 when she is up for re-election, liberals in Arizona are already floating potential challengers, including Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who said earlier this year that some Democratic senators have urged him to run against Sinema. When asked about Sinema’s decision to register as an independent, Gallego said, “Unfortunately, Senator Sinema is once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans,” Gallego said in a statement following Sinema’s announcement.” Regarding another upcoming election concerning the entire political system, Sinema declined to address questions about whether she would support Biden for president in 2024, and she also said she’s not thinking about whether a strong third party should emerge in the US.