In a move that potentially weakens Democrats’ already tenuous hold on the upper chamber, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is changing her affiliation to independent after decrying the stranglehold extremists have on both major parties.
Although, Sinema who is up for re-election in 2024, like independent senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, has not indicated whether she will continue to caucus with Democrats. However, the first-term Democrat made the announcement Friday morning in a guest column for the Arizona Republic, just days after Democrats won a critical Senate runoff in Georgia.
Sinema wrote, “Everyday Americans are increasingly left behind by national parties’ rigid partisanship, which has hardened in recent years. 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.”
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. 2/3
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) December 9, 2022
Both parties give too much credence to their extreme wings and are more interested in stymying one another’s agenda than working for those who elected them, as the senator said in her column. Added that they have failed to demonstrate “much tolerance for diversity of thought” and that “payback against the opposition party has replaced thoughtful legislating.”
Similar to Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sinema has frequently defied the Left-wing direction of her party, although both often fall in line after initial, headline-grabbing reluctance.
“In catering to the fringes, neither party has demonstrated much tolerance for diversity of thought. Bipartisan compromise is seen as a rarely acceptable last resort, rather than the best way to achieve lasting progress. Payback against the opposition party has replaced thoughtful legislating,” she wrote.
“Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she said, stating in an interview with Politico that she will continue to cast her ballots in the same manner as she has since her 2018 election.
However, with an agenda that includes massive green energy spending and lax border security, switching to independent is a shot across the bow to the party’s leadership, which has at times struggled to keep more moderate members in line. Although, in Tuesday’s runoff election, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker. Now, the Democrats control 51 seats in the Senate.
In October of 2021, while recording the confrontation, Sinema was stalked and harassed at Arizona State University by pro-illegal immigration activists who followed her into a restroom.
Sinema wrote, “I promised I would never bend to party pressure, and I would stay focused on solving problems and getting things done for everyday Arizonans. My approach is rare in Washington and has upset partisans in both parties.”
In a state that defies categorization as red or blue and values the maverick, which longtime Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain proudly wore during his 31 years in the Senate, which ended when he passed away in 2018, the move could better position Sinema for her 2024 reelection bid.