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U.S. Senator Sinema leaves Democratic Party, saying she has “never fit“


U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said on Friday she is leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent, in an announcement just days after Democrats won a Senate race in Georgia to secure 51 seats in the 100-member chamber.

“Like a lot of Arizonans, I have never fit perfectly in either national party,” Sinema said in an article for the Arizona Republic newspaper. 

Sinema intends to maintain her committee assignments from the Democrats, an aide told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The aide would not say whether or not Sinema would continue to caucus with Democrats.

Sinema herself, however, said she would not caucus with the Republican Party, according to an interview published by Politico on Friday. If that holds, Democrats could still maintain greater governing control in the closely divided chamber.

Sinema and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin have kept Washington in suspense over the last two years as they repeatedly have withheld their needed votes for legislative initiatives sought by President Joe Biden.

At the same time, they have worked in a bipartisan way on high-profile bills that have become law. Just this week, Sinema and Republican Senator Thom Tillis unveiled an immigration reform plan that is getting attention in the Senate.

In the Arizona Republic article, Sinema described her disillusionment with what she described as a rigid two-party system that encourages partisanship over independence.

“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,” Sinema wrote.

Democrats had held the Senate 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris holding a tie-breaking vote. U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory in Tuesday’s run-off election in Georgia had handed them their 51st seat.

Two other current senators – Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine – are registered independents but caucus with Democrats.

Sinema on Friday said her shift came as a growing number of people in her Western U.S. state were also declaring themselves politically independent, rejecting both the Republican and Democratic political labels.

“We don’t line up to do what we’re told, automatically subscribe to whatever positions the national political parties dictate or view every issue through labels that divide us,” she wrote.

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U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) walks from her hideaway office to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. August 2, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing for Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) nominee for U.S. President Joe Biden, in Washington, D.C., U.S., February 1, 2022. Al Drago/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) walks to an elevator outside the Senate Chamber during a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Brenner