Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) announced Friday that she left the Democrat Party and registered as an independent, a move that drew approving reactions from her Republican colleagues and put a damper on what had been a celebratory week for Democrats following the Georgia runoff.
Sinema, who has become known for bucking party lines, prompted the range of responses with her announcement after Democrats had just secured a razor-thin 51–49 majority with their win in Georgia on Tuesday.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) told Breitbart News the Democrats’ loss of Sinema was “due to the extreme, hard left direction prevailing in their party.”
“I don’t blame her for not wanting to tie herself to Joe Biden’s policies that have left our southern border wide open, locked kids and parents out of schools, increased crime, and caused inflation to skyrocket,” Marshall said, adding that she was “the definition of a Maverick.”
Sinema conveyed in an op-ed in the Arizona Republic that her new party affiliation would not change her current approach to her job, which suggests she will continue to vote with Democrats most of the time. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Sinema would keep her committee assignments through the Democrat caucus and that Democrats would therefore not be subject to committee power-sharing that a 50–50 Senate would typically necessitate.
Despite appearing to have little technical impact in D.C., some responses Friday indicated Sinema had rattled her now-former party members.
Numerous individuals from the far-left flank of the party, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), appeared incited. Ocasio-Cortez said, “People deserve more,” while Bowman wrote on social media, “Bye Felicia.”
In the media, a columnist’s headline in the left-leaning Daily Beast read, “Democrats’ Kyrsten Sinema Nightmare Has Just Begun,” and an Arizona Republic opinion piece described her move as a “gut-punch.”
Sinema has not announced whether she plans to run for reelection in 2024, but one of her potential Democrat challengers, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), took the opportunity to berate Sinema for “once again putting her own interests ahead of” Arizonans.
The Arizona senator has become a thorn in Democrats’ sides in her first term in office, forcing them at times to make concessions on key bills and standing firm with moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in refusing to vote to nuke the filibuster, a protection in place for the minority party.
Sinema was recently pictured in a viral photo embracing a solid red state Republican, Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), after Lummis joined 11 of her GOP colleagues in casting a vote in favor of the “Respect for Marriage Act,” of which Sinema was an ardent supporter.
Sinema and Lummis hugged after Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act.
Lummis said she faced a lot of criticism from the right after coming out in support of the bill.
“I’m looking forward to going back to cryptocurrency now,” she said pic.twitter.com/9yyhpgLGCz
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) November 29, 2022
“Senator Sinema has proven time and time again that she puts the needs of the people of Arizona over party, so it’s really no surprise she’s chosen to leave the Democratic Party,” Lummis told Breitbart News in a statement.
The Wyoming Republican added, “Moving forward, I have no doubt she will continue her independent streak in representing her constituents in Arizona.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said during an appearance on Fox News that he welcomed Sinema’s party exit and that her news was “a reflection of the Democratic Party and just how extreme and left-wing it’s become in recent years.”
“We’re a big tent party. We have everyone from Susan Collins to Ted Cruz in the Senate with us,” Cotton said. “The Democrats, let’s just say, don’t have that degree of diverse viewpoints and don’t welcome people who dissent from their party line.”