Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act at the Capitol Building on Nov. 29, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images`)
Sinema won’t say whether she will caucus with Democrats
Story posted for: Willie Wonka
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has left the Democratic Party and registered as an independent.
Sinema, in a Friday op-ed in the Arizona Republic, cited increasingly partisan interests and radicalization of both political parties as the reason for her departure.
“Americans are told that we have only two choices – Democrat or Republican – and that we must subscribe wholesale to policy views the parties hold, views that have been pulled further and further toward the extremes,” Sinema wrote in the op-ed.
“Most Arizonans believe this is a false choice, and when I ran for the U.S. House and the Senate, I promised Arizonans something different,” she continued. “I pledged to be independent and work with anyone to achieve lasting results. I committed I would not demonize people I disagreed with, engage in name-calling, or get distracted by political drama.”
Sinema went on to accuse mainstream political parties in the U.S. of worrying more about blocking each other out than the well-being of their constituents.
The senator has been the target of extensive intra-party mudslinging for not falling in line with the rest of her party on key issues — most notably, refusing to abolish the filibuster.
“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,” Sinema wrote in the op-ed.
She added, “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. ”
The true ramifications of Sinema’s departure are yet to be known — more consequential than senators’ party affiliation is their caucusing and legislative objectives.
In 2006, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., changed his affiliation from Democratic to “independent Democrat” – a distinction not formally recognized by the Senate. Lieberman did so after losing his primary but continued to caucus with the Democrats.
In 2001, late Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., dropped his GOP membership and became an independent when the Senate was split 50-50 and began to caucus with the Democrats, giving them the effective majority.