Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party.
The senator from Arizona who has helped thwart the party’s agenda since President Joe Biden took office in 2021 told Politico that she is no longer a Democrat, and that she is changing her party affiliation to independent. “Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she claimed.
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Sinema told Politico that she would not caucus with Republicans, but the defection means Democrats will no longer have the 51-49 Senate majority they appeared to secure when Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker in a runoff in Georgia on Tuesday. Democrats will still have the 50 members needed to control the chamber, but they won’t have as much room to maneuver as they were expecting earlier this week — especially considering West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who is still a Democrat despite pleas from Republicans — isn’t exactly a party loyalist.
Sinema has long been a thorn in the party’s side. She’s done just about all she can to foil Biden’s legislative agenda, with some Democrats telling Rolling Stone they believed her opposition to the party’s infrastructure package and budget resolution was “inauthentic,” and meant as a ploy for media attention. She opposed filibuster reform, wasn’t averse to voting with Trump, and gladly took cash from a variety of special interest groups before voting along with their interests. Mitch McConnell called her the “most effective first-term senator” he’s ever seen during a conservative event in September, with Sinema gushing over the “friendship” she’d forged with the Republican leader.
Sinema told Politico she informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of her plans to leave the party on Thursday. “I intend to show up to work, do the same work that I always do,” she said. “I just intend to show up to work as an independent.”
Sinema published an op-ed in The Arizona Republic elaborating on the move. “We make our own decisions, using our own judgment and lived experiences to form our beliefs,” she wrote. “We don’t line up to do what we’re told, automatically subscribe to whatever positions the national political parties dictate or view every issue through labels that divide us.”
The pharmaceutical and finance industries sending her money ahead of her opposition to prescription drug pricing reform and tax hikes for the wealthy would certainly agree.
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