US Senator Kyrsten Silena announced that she will be leaving the Democratic Party after four years of being elected.
She stressed that she won’t sit with Republicans, and stated she would rather serve as an independent member of the chamber.
With Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote, the Democrats retain control of the upper chamber.
Arizona lawmaker says she took the decision to combat what she calls a “broken system of partisanship”.
In a tweet, she stated that “Registering and showing up at work as an independent is a reflection on who I have always been and it’s also a reflection about who Arizona is.”
We don’t follow orders, but we do the right thing for our nation and state.
She wrote an opinion piece for Arizona Republic, stating that Americans are being increasingly left behind due to national parties’ rigid political partisanship and she hopes to work proudly alongside senators from both parties.
As the only independent senators in the chamber, she joins Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Angus King.
Although she did not answer whether or not she would run in the 2024 election, the 46-year old informed Chuck Schumer on Thursday of her decision. US media reported she also informed the White House.
The Senate might not notice the change, considering that Democratic Senator Rafael Warnock won in Georgia earlier in the week giving the party a 51 to 49 majority.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre stated that “we understand that her decision not to register in Arizona as an independent does not affect the new Democratic majority control over the Senate.” We have every reason for optimism that she will continue working with us.
Although Senator Sinema was described by the White House as a key partner in President Joe Biden’s legislative success, she has always been open to voting against the party line on many issues. Some of her actions have upset local Arizona party officials.
In August, she was the last Democrat who voted against Biden’s $700bn climate bill and his tax bill.
Some of her colleagues were furious that she refused to give up the filibuster, a rule that requires a 60% majority in order to pass legislation in the Senate.
Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senate Majority Leader, stated that she would be permitted to retain her Senate positions as a statement Friday.
The New York Democrat stated that Kyrsten was independent and that she has always been that way. He also said that he is looking forward to working with Kyrsten.
Rumours that Ruben Gallego would be her primary challenger in 2024 were rumoured to have been circulating even before she switched.
The Republican Party has been losing its vice-like control over Arizona politics in recent years. The 2018 victory of Senator Sinema over Martha McSally was just the beginning of a series of Democratic Party wins.
In the meantime, Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, has been elected to the other state senator seat. Katie Hobbs, meanwhile, was elected governor last month in mid-term elections.
Kyrsten Sinema, since her 2018 election to the Senate has been steadily moving into her own political space. She is now independent of the Democratic Party’s gravity. This separation has been obvious for many years but was not officially recognized until now.
It is unclear what the immediate consequences of this for the US Senate where Democrats have just won a 51-49 majority are. The new majority power will not be lost if Ms Sinema reunites with Democrats as she claims she will. However, Republicans will try to persuade her otherwise.
For Democrats, Ms Sinema’s Arizona Senate term will expire in 2024. It seems that Ms. Sinema is still interested in re-election, despite the fact she announced her independence. Her opponent for the Democratic nomination was expected to be tougher than it had been. There is now the possibility of a general election in which she will face a Republican and a Democratic candidate.
Although Arizona is known for its affinity with iconoclastic politicians, it’s difficult to win as an independent candidate without support from one of the major US parties.