Kyrsten Sinema leaves the Democratic Party

Kyrsten Sinema
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Photo: Gage Skidmore/via Wikipedia

Out centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has just announced that she’s leaving the Democratic Party and will be registering as an independent.

“I’ve registered as an Arizona independent,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday in her Senate office. “I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense.”

“I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to,” she continued. “Removing myself from the partisan structure… not only is it 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.”

Democrats will probably still hold 51 seats in the Senate next year as Sinema may still caucus with the Democrats like Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Angus King (I-ME) do. Sinema said that she expects to keep her committee assignments, another sign that she will maintain some ties with Democrats.

“When I come to work each day, it’ll be the same,” she said. “I’m going to still come to work and hopefully serve on the same committees I’ve been serving on and continue to work well with my colleagues at both political parties.”

The move comes after years of a strained relationship between Sinema and her fellow Democrats. Earlier this year, the Arizona Democratic Party voted to censure Sinema, citing her failure to help pass federal voting rights legislation.

More recently, Arizona Democrats blasted her for being “noticeably absent” on the campaign trail this year. Usually, a state’s senior senator will appear at campaign events for members of their party running for the U.S. House and state-level offices even if they are not up for reelection themselves, but Sinema didn’t even appear at a major campaign event with former President Barack Obama.

Sinema is out as bisexual and is one of two out LGBTQ+ U.S. senators with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). All of the other out LGBTQ+ elected officials in Congress are currently Democrats, but next year Sinema and George Santos – an out gay MAGA Republican elected to the House of Representatives in New York’s Third Congressional District – will both be out LGBTQ+ politicians in Congress who aren’t Democrats.

Sinema will be up for reelection in 2024 and may have to run against both a Democratic opponent and a Republican opponent if she chooses to run again.

A poll in September found that Arizona voters of all political stripes – Republican, Democratic, and independent – had an unfavorable view of Sinema.

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