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Sen. Sinema Leaves Democratic Party, Shaking Up U.S. Senate

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has officially left the Democratic Party and changed her affiliation to Independent. Her move weakens Democrats’ already tenuous hold on the upper chamber. Prior to her announcement, Democrats had a 51-50 majority in the U.S. Senate.

In a guest column for the Arizona Republic, Sinema slammed “partisanship” and the stranglehold it has on both major parties. Sinema, who is up for re-election in 2024, said she will continue to caucus with Democrats.

“Everyday Americans are increasingly left behind by national parties’ rigid partisanship, which has hardened in recent years,” Sinema wrote. “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. In catering to the fringes, neither party has demonstrated much tolerance for diversity of thought,” she wrote. “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.”

“There’s a disconnect between what everyday Americans want and deserve from our politics, and what political parties are offering. I am privileged to represent Arizonans of all backgrounds and beliefs in the U.S. Senate and am honored to travel to every corner of our state, listening to your concerns and ideas. While Arizonans don’t all agree on the issues, we are united in our values of hard work, common sense, and independence,” Sinema said.

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“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. Each day, Arizonans wake up, work, and live alongside people with different views and experiences, usually without even thinking about partisan politics,” Sinema added.

“I promised I would never bend to party pressure, and I would stay focused on solving problems and getting things done for everyday Arizonans. Americans are more united than the national parties would have us believe. We’ve shown that a diverse democracy can still function effectively. Arizonans – including many registered as Democrats or Republicans – are eager for leaders who focus on common-sense solutions rather than party doctrine. But if the loudest, most extreme voices continue to drive each party toward the fringes – and if party leaders stay more focused on energizing their bases than delivering for all Americans – these kinds of lasting legislative successes will become rarer,” she wrote.

“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,” she declared.

She said: “Like a lot of Arizonans, I have never fit perfectly in either national party. Becoming an independent won’t change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same. Arizonans who’ve supported my work expanding jobs and economic opportunity, or my opposition to tax hikes that would harm our economic competitiveness, should know my focus on these areas will continue.”

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“I offer Arizonans something different. Some partisans believe they own this Senate seat. They don’t.  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.,” she concluded.

Sinema’s defiance has angered Democrats.

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Last week, Arizona Democrat Rep. Ruben Gallego went after Sinema and West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin for teaming up with Republicans on key bills, which stopped and slowed down President Biden’s legislative agenda from crossing the finish line.

MSN published a report detailing how Sinema may face a tough re-election in 2024 because of her support for the filibuster, which may result in some Democrats not supporting her on the campaign trail.

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