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Just days following the re-election of Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, giving the Democrats a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema made a big announcement.
She is leaving the Democrat Party and has decided to officially register as an independent.
While the headline might make you think this will be good for Republicans, that remains to be seen.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre downplayed the move saying that it won’t affect the Democrat’s control in the Senate.
“We understand that her decision to register as an independent in Arizona does not change the new Democratic majority control of the Senate, and we have every reason to expect that we will continue to work successfully with her,” Jean-Pierre said.
Sinema claims to be different than other independents like Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine who both attend Democratic caucus meetings.
A spokesperson for Sinema said she has never attended such meetings and will not going forward.
In a tweet early this morning, Sinema said, “In a natural extension of my service since I was first elected to Congress, 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 is proud of her ability to work with members of both parties. She reminded her constituents, “Over the past four years, I’ve worked proudly with other Senators in both parties and forged consensus on successful laws helping everyday Arizonans build better lives for themselves and their families.”
“Becoming an Independent won’t change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same.”
She added, “I don’t anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure.”
How will the switch affect the Senate? She called that “a question for Chuck Schumer… I intend to show up to work, do the same work that I always do. I just intend to show up to work as an independent.”
When pressed about whether or not she’ll run again in 2024, the Arizona senator said, “It’s fair to say that I’m not talking about it right now.”
She elaborated that she’s thinking about her current situation and not yet looking ahead to 2024.
“I keep my eye focused on what I’m doing right now. And registering as an independent is what I believe is right for my state. It’s right for me. I think it’s right for the country,” she said, adding that “politics and elections will come later.”
For any of the Democrats who are concerned, Sinema insists that she’ll continue to support Democratic presidential appointees and will keep her two subcommittee chairmanships.
She added that her socially liberal ideology has not changed though she is a bit more fiscally conservative than most of her Democrat colleagues.
Sinema and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have been the two wild cards in the Senate. With a 51-49 majority, the two of them will have a little less negotiating power come January.