Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Friday that she has left the Democratic Party and has registered as an independent, saying she’s turning her back on the “broken partisan system in Washington” that prioritizes denying the opposition party a win rather than “delivering for all Americans.”
“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,” Sinema stated in a post on Twitter.
The lawmaker blamed growing political partisanship for dividing American families.
“Everyday Americans are increasingly left behind by national parties’ rigid partisanship, which has hardened in recent years,” she wrote in the Arizona Republic.
“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,” she added.
The former Democrat suggested in an interview with Politico that, after registering as an independent, she would continue to vote in the same way she has for her first four years serving as a senator from Arizona.
“Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she told the outlet, adding that she won’t caucus with Republicans.
She added that she won’t attend weekly Democrat caucus meetings, though it’s unclear whether she’ll continue to caucus with them.
It is also unclear whether Sinema will maintain her committee assignments from the Democrats. Two other senators—Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine—are registered independents but caucus with Democrats.
White House Hopes to ‘Continue to Work Successfully’ With Sinema
Sinema’s surprise announcement comes just days after the Democrats secured an absolute majority in the Senate following Raphael Warnock’s Georgia runoff win.
Warnock’s victory over Senate candidate Herschel Walker gave the Democrats a 51–49 margin in the upper chamber, which Sinema’s defection slims to 50–49–1.
By Tom Ozimek