Four years after her election, US Senator Kyrsten Sinema has declared her intention to leave the Democratic Party.
She emphasised, however, that she would not sit with Republicans and would instead participate in the legislature as an independent.
With Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, the Democrats continue to have the majority in the upper chamber.
The Arizona senator claimed that her decision was motivated by a desire to combat a “broken partisan system”.
She added in a Twitter video that “registering as an independent and coming to work with the label independent is a reflection of who I’ve always been, and it’s a reflection of who Arizona is.”
We don’t follow orders in a line; rather, we act in our state’s and nation’s best interests.
She stated that “Americans are becoming left behind by national parties’ strict partisanship” in an opinion article she wrote for the Arizona Republic newspaper. She also expressed her desire to “operate proudly with senators in both parties.”
She is the lone independent senator in the Senate, along with Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who both support the Democratic party.
The 46-year-old notified Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of her choice on Thursday, although she avoided addressing whether she will seek re-election in 2024. She reportedly informed the White House of her plans, according to US media.
Practically speaking, the Senate’s 51-49 majority as a result of Democratic Senator Rafael Warnock’s victory in Georgia earlier this week may not be significantly affected by the ruling.
In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We recognise that her decision to register as an independent in Arizona does not impact the new Democratic majority leadership of the Senate.” We have every reason to believe that our successful working relationship with her will continue.
Senator Sinema has long been prepared to vote outside the party line on a range of topics,
and some of her actions have incensed local party officials in Arizona, even though the White House statement referred to her as a “key partner” in several of President Joe Biden’s legislative victories.
She was the final Democrat to oppose Mr. Biden’s $700 billion (£577 billion) tax and climate measure in August.
She also angered some colleagues earlier this year by refusing to end the filibuster, a parliamentary regulation that requires a 60 percent majority to approve certain legislation in the Senate.
Even before making the decision, she was allegedly facing a primary challenge from Congressman Ruben Gallego in 2024.
The Republican party’s once-vice-like hold on Arizona politics has waned in recent years. The first of a string of Democratic Party triumphs began in 2018 with Senator Sinema’s victory over Martha McSally.
Since that time, the state’s other senate seat has been filled by retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and Katie Hobbs was chosen as governor in last month’s midterm elections.
Kyrsten Sinema has steadily shifted into her own political circle since she was first elected to the Senate in 2018, free from the Democratic Party’s pull. The evident but long-hidden division is finally formally acknowledged.
Uncertainty surrounds the immediate repercussions for the US Senate, where Democrats have just won a comfortable majority of 51 to 49. The committee authority that comes with that increased majority will continue if Ms. Sinema cooperates with the Democrats, as she has promised to do. Republicans will, however, likely make an effort to sway her.
Democrats should be more worried about Ms. Sinema’s term as Arizona’s senator expiring in 2024. It appears Ms. Sinema still has reelection on her mind given the manner in which she declared her independence. She was likely going to have a tough opponent for the state’s Democratic nomination, and this likelihood had grown. Now there is a chance that she will compete in a three-way general election against a Republican and a Democrat.
Arizona has a history of supporting outspoken candidates, but it might be challenging to win as an independent without the backing of one of the two major US parties.