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Why did Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leave the Democratic Party?

‘I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to,’ she said in an interview

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing to examine social media’s impact on homeland security, Sept. 14, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sinema announced Friday, Dec. 9, that she now has registered as an independent, but she does not plan to caucus with Republicans, ensuring Democrats will retain their narrow voting majority in the Senate.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

AP

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party, she revealed in an interview with Politico. She will register as an independent.

“Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she said, adding that she intends to vote the same way.

Three days ago, Democrats secured a 51-49 majority in the Senate. But, as White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted in a statement, Sinema’s decision to leave the party doesn’t change who is in control of the upper house.

“Sen. Sinema has been a key partner on some of the historic legislation President Biden has championed over the last 20 months,” Jean-Pierre said.

The senator is up for reelection in 2024 but has not conveyed if she is seeking another term.

Why is Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Democratic Party?

Sinema said in another interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that she knows many would be surprised by the news, but the decision “makes a lot of sense.” 

“I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to,” she said.

“Removing myself from the partisan structure — not only is it true to who I am and how I operate, I also think it’ll provide a place of belonging for many folks across the state and the country, who also are tired of the partisanship.”

In an op-ed published in AZ Central, she said that registered Democrats and Republicans in Arizona want “leaders who focus on common-sense solutions rather than party doctrine.”

What does Kyrsten Sinema’s decision mean for the Democratic Party?

According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was informed of Sinema’s decision on Thursday.

“I don’t anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure,” Sinema said, adding that Schumer would be better equipped to talk about details of the switch in the chamber, per the report.

“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,” she said.

An aide told Reuters that Sinema intends to stay on board with committee assignments from Democrats. She does not plan to caucus with Republicans, according to The Associated Press.