Kyrsten Sinema, the truly obnoxious manic pixie dream senator from Arizona, announced Friday that she’s switching her party affiliation from Democrat to Independent—just days after Democrats finally increased their Senate majority from 50 to 51, securing outright control of the chamber and its key committees. Democrats being able to do things during the next two years of Joe Biden’s presidency was apparently too much for Sinema, who prefers that nothing be accomplished in the senate, ever.
Sinema revealed the change in both an interview with CNN and in an Arizona Republic op-ed.
Democrats currently have 50 seats in the body because two Independents—Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine—caucus with them. Would Sinema also pledge to caucus with Dems? She simply wouldn’t say, though she told CNN’s Jake Tapper that she’s going to “hopefully serve on the same committees I’ve been serving on and continue to work well with my colleagues at both political parties.”
Sinema also told Tapper of the switch: “I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense.” It certainly does make sense from the vantage point that Sinema is deeply unpopular in Arizona and would’ve probably faced a tough primary for her 2024 reelection bid. A September AARP poll found that just 37 percent of likely Arizona voters had a favorable view of her, compared to 50 percent for Sen. Mark Kelly. Rumored primary challengers to Sinema include Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, but frankly, just about any Democrat could probably beat her at this point.
NBC News White House correspondent Mike Memoli reported that the White House learned of Sinema’s decision on Thursday. An official told him that they don’t think it will impact the Senate majority and don’t believe “it changes much, except her re-election path.”
In switching parties, Sinema sets herself up to run a third-party spoiler campaign for the eventual Democratic nominee.
“I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to,” she said on CNN. “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.”
Ah yes, a place of belonging for people who would do a little curtsy while voting against increasing the minimum wage from an unlivable $7.25 an hour.
People aren’t mad that partisanship itself exists—they’re mad that it prevents Congress from doing anything substantive to improve their lives. Blocking progress is something of which Sinema is extremely guilty, and this label changes none of that.