Arizona Sen. Kirsten Sinema’s chilling announcement Friday that she is going independent from the Democratic Party sparked outrage among liberals who accused the iconoclastic lawmaker of self-interested betrayal.
The first-term senator said in an article published by the Arizona Republic on Friday, as well as in several interviews, that he will “never fit into the box of any political party” and he has vowed not to caucus with Senate Republicans.
If he follows through on his pledge, Democrats will retain their narrow majority in the closely divided Senate.
In a video explaining his decision, Sinema said, “Signing up as a freelancer and starting to work under the freelance title has always been a reflection of who I’ve been. … Nothing will change for me.”
Sinema’s move drew an immediate backlash from Democrats, who took to Twitter to express their anger and frustration with the newly formed Independent newspaper.
The Arizona Democratic Party said Sinemani was “failing Arizonans” for refusing to overturn Senate legislation to pass the election reform legislation and opposing raising corporate tax rates.
“As a party, we welcome independent voters and their perspectives,” the statement said. “Senator Sinema may now be registered as an independent, but he has shown that he answers to corporations and billionaires, not Arizonans. Senator Sinema’s party registration means nothing if he doesn’t listen to his constituents “.
Progressive Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), widely seen as a potential challenger to Sinema in 2024, accused him of “once again putting his own interests before getting things done for Arizonans.”
“We need senators who will put Arizonans ahead of big drug companies and Wall Street bankers,” Gallego said. “Whether in the Marine Corps or in Congress, I have never stopped fighting for Arizonans. And at a time when the country needs leadership the most, Arizona deserves a voice that won’t back down in the face of the fight.
“He doesn’t rely on ideology,” Melanie D’Arrigo, a former Democratic congressional candidate from New York, tweeted. “He’s controlled by whichever corporations and lobbyists give him the most money — which makes him an elected mercenary, not an elected representative of the people.”
Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko was even less diplomatic, tweeting: “I see Kirsten Sinema is still great at being the worst.”
Several critics accused Sinema of using Arizona Democrats to get elected and then turning his back on them after taking office.
“Krysten Sinema ran as a Democrat, voted as a Republican and now switched parties to Independent,” wrote user enrich12. “@SenatorSinema is a traitor. He defrauded the people of Arizona.”
MSNBC analyst Brittany Packnett Cunningham said Sinema decided to change her political affiliation after failing to survive the 2024 Democratic primary — a move she made three days after Sen. Raphael Warnock won a runoff race in Georgia, giving Democrats 51 -noted that he announced after presenting the position. Senate seat.
“None of this is surprising, but it confirms that he’s at his worst,” Packnett Cunningham added.
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan echoed these sentiments, writing: “Sinema owes her entire career to the Democratic Party, who has been given endless encouragement by the party’s leadership, but she is waiting for a moment for the Democrats to announce it. As I said before, it’s beyond politics or ideology – it’s just awful.
Hasan also pointed to the centrist Democratic senator from West Virginia who, along with Sinema, has used his influence to block or stop some of President Biden’s big-ticket initiatives, including the minimum wage, saying, “This morning “What’s Joe Manchin thinking?” increasing and expanding tax credits for children.
“I’ve always believed that Sinema is worse than Manchin, and so the fact that he made this move before Manchin is proof of that view,” Hassan said.
Republicans welcomed Sinema’s departure from the Democratic Party.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, (R-Colo.) tweeted: “Glad to see @KyrstenSinema leave the Democratic Party. This year we have @TulsiGabbard and Sen. Sinema – both high profile Democrats – switching parties. I hope many see the light! “
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre praised Sinema as a “key partner” in carrying out some of Biden’s priorities and said “the change will not change the new Democratic majority control of the Senate … We have every reason to expect that” she will continue to work successfully with.”
While it is common for an incumbent senator to change party affiliation, the move is not expected to significantly change the way the Senate operates.
Before Sinema’s announcement, Democrats were expected to hold a 51-49 majority in the House in January. Until then, the Senate will remain evenly divided, with Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tie-breaker for Democrats.
More importantly, a Senate Democratic aide said, Sinema was expected to carry out his committee assignments, making life a little easier for Democrats with whom he usually votes.