Sen. Kyrsten Sinema changes party affiliation

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema changes party affiliation

  • US News
  • December 9, 2022
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Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said Friday that she had changed her party affiliation from Democratic to Independent.

“I registered as an Arizona independent. I know some people might be a little surprised by this, but actually I think it makes a lot of sense,” Sinema told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Friday.

Sinema’s exit means Democrats will only have a 50-seat majority in the Senate when the next Congress begins in 2023.

Sinema, who has often opposed her party over elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda, said she is removing herself from the “partisan structure.” She added that her move “will provide a place of belonging for many people across the state and across the country who are also tired of partisanship.”

In an op-ed published in The Arizona Republic on Friday, Sinema wrote that she had pledged to voters never to succumb to pressure from either political party.

“My approach is rare in Washington and has angered partisans in both parties,” Sinema wrote. “It’s also an approach that has delivered lasting results for Arizona.”

Sinema, as a runaway Democrat, often countered Biden as an obstacle, including by refusing to eliminate the filibuster, and was already perceived as largely independent.

Two other independent Senate members, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, caucus with Democrats. Sinema didn’t specifically say if she would.

A White House official said the administration is aware of Sinema’s move, adding that their decision for the Democrats changes little “other than their path to re-election,” according to NBC’s Mike Memoli.

A WH official says they were briefed on Sinema Thursday afternoon and believe it will not affect their Senate majority. They don’t think “a lot will change, other than their path to re-election.”

— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) December 9, 2022

Sinema, who is up for re-election in 2024, was reportedly unpopular with Democratic voters in her state.

A poll by progressive group Data for Progress released last year showed she was likely to lose her elementary school by 2024. Democratic MP Ruben Gallego was a potential challenger, according to CNN.

An AARP poll released in September found that Sinema was least popular with Senator Mark Kelly and now-governor-elect Katie Hobbs, with 54% of voters saying they didn’t like her. The poll also showed that Sinema’s support was mostly evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and Independents, while Kelly and Hobbs had strong Democrat support.

This is an evolving story. Please check back for updates.

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