ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, registers as independent

Dec 9, 2022, 5:31 AM | Updated: 11:42 am

PHOENIX – Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Friday she is registering as an independent, leaving the Democratic Party but promising her work won’t change.

“I have joined the growing number 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 said in a post on social media.

Sinema, in her first term, noted that she has worked with senators from both parties but that, “Registering as an independent and showing up to work with the title of independent is a reflection of who I’ve always been.”

“And it’s a reflection of who Arizona is.”

Sinema told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News a few hours later that “Folks were aware of my decision before the announcement.”

Sinema said she does not plan to caucus with Republicans, according to an interview in Politico, which allows Democrats to keep their narrow Senate majority.

Democrats will still hold a 51-49 edge in the Senate come January after the victory Tuesday by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s runoff election.

“Sen. Sinema has been a key partner on some of the historic legislation President [Joe] Biden has championed over the last 20 months, from the American Rescue Plan to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, from the Inflation Reduction Act to the CHIPS and Science Act, from the PACT Act to the Gun Safety Act to the Respect for Marriage Act, and more,” the White House said in a press release.

“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,” the White House said.

Sinema is expected to maintain her committee assignments through the Democratic majority, according to a Senate Democratic aide. Two independents, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, caucus with Democrats and gain their committee seniority through the party.

The Arizona Democratic Party censured her in January after she voted against changing the U.S. Senate filibuster rule, which effectively requires 60 votes to pass most legislation in the 100-member chamber.

Sinema has not said whether she plans to run for reelection. Her term ends in January 2025.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, registers as independent