(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says she’s left the Democratic Party and will be unaffiliated with either major political party.
Arizonans woke up to the news from an overnight Twitter post that began with her hailing how great it is to wake up in the state. It was a companion piece to an exclusive op-ed penned for the Arizona Republic newspaper.
She vowed the change doesn’t reflect a move in her politics or beliefs, saying in the short clip it is “a reflection of who I’ve always been.”
The immediate implications weren’t entirely clear for a Senate that appeared to be 51-49 Democrats following the Georgia runoff election three days earlier, won by incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. The op-ed and the tweets did not indicate with which party she would caucus.
Speculation of Sinema or West Virginia Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin changing parties had swirled to varying degrees since the Election Day victory in Pennsylvania by Democrat John Fetterman, who flipped a red seat blue – Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey declined to run for reelection – from the past two years’ 50-50 Senate.
Sinema wrote in three 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.
“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.”
In the newspaper op-ed, Sinema writes, “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.”
Sinema wrote with precision, declaring her approach “rare” and today’s politics marked with “poison.” And with that, she was clear to state, “Americans are more united than the national parties would have us believe.”
The 46-year-old touted her accomplishments and vowed to continue pursuit of the same goals for which she has campaigned – jobs and economic opportunity; opposition to tax hikes; women’s health care decisions between her and her doctor; no discrimination against LGBTQ Americans; security of the U.S. southern border; permanent protection for “Dreamers”; and affordable health care.
Sinema even had an offer for those that supported her because of her party affiliation.
“If anyone,” she wrote, “previously supported me because they believed, contrary to my promise, that I would be a blindly loyal vote for a partisan agenda – or for those who believe our state should be represented by partisans who push divisive, negative politics, regardless of the impact on our state – then there are sure to be others vying for your support.”
Sinema has been a Democrat at each step up the political ladder. She’s a first-term senator next up for election in 2024 and previously represented Arizona’s 9th Congressional District from 2013 to 2019. A lawyer by trade, she was a state senator from 2010 to 2012, and a state representative from 2005 to 2010.
In closing the op-ed, she wrote, “This Senate seat doesn’t belong to Democratic or Republican bosses in Washington. It doesn’t belong to one party or the other, and it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Arizona, which is far too special a place to be defined by extreme partisans and ideologues.”