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Shock: Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaving Democratic Party, could impact Senate control

The Arizona senator declined to say whether she would caucus with the Democrats, but if she does not, her departure would return the Senate back to 50-50 control

December 9, 2022 6:53am

Updated: December 9, 2022 10:19am

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has announced that she will leave the Democratic Party and officially register as an independent and in an Op-Ed in the Arizona Republic.

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

“I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve 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 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.”

The shocking declaration from Sinema came only days after Democrats thought they had solidified a 51-49 majority in Congress’s upper chamber with Sen. Raphael Warnock’s Georgia victory.

She reinforced her decision early Friday morning at 6 a.m. with a series of tweets.

“In a natural extension of my service since I was first elected to Congress, I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington and formally registering as an Arizona Independent,” she tweeted.

“Over the past four years, I’ve worked proudly with other Senators in both parties and forged consensus on successful laws helping everyday Arizonans build better lives for themselves and their families.

“Becoming an Independent won’t change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same. Read my full Op-ed in the Arizona Republic.”

Sinema did not say if she will caucus with Democrats like independent Sens. Angus King and Bernie Sanders, but said she will continue in her committee assignments.

If Sinema were to decide not to caucus with the Democrats it could impact the Democrats unilateral control of committees since they would lose their 51-49 majority and return the Senate to the previous 50-50 balance the nation saw from 2020-2022.

“When I come to work each day, it’ll be the same,” Sinema 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.”

In her Arizona Republic OpEd, Sinema said conviction of one’s belief, not politics was what was important.

“We make our own decisions, using our own judgment and lived experiences to form our beliefs. 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,” Sinema wrote. It’s no surprise that Washington, D.C., often fails to reflect that expectation…

She also complained that politics has fallen prey to extremism.

“Pressures in both parties pull leaders to the edges, allowing the loudest, most extreme voices to determine their respective parties’ priorities and expecting the rest of us to fall in line. 

“When politicians are more focused on denying the opposition party a victory than they are on improving Americans’ lives, the people who lose are everyday Americans.  

“That’s why I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington. I registered as an Arizona independent.”

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.