Kyrsten Sinema Is Leaving the Democratic Party

She dismissed the idea that timing—and the party’s victory in Georgia—had anything to do with the decision.

Kent Nishimura/Getty

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Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent. Politico has the scoop, which you can decide is either unsurprising or something of a bombshell. The news comes shortly after two key moments for Democrats. This week, Sen. Raphael Warnock won re-election in Georgia, securing the party with a theoretically more powerful advantage in the upper chamber, and Sen. Chuck Schumer was chosen again as majority leader.

Speaking to Politico, Sinema attempted to downplay the “timing” of her announcement, claiming it was rooted in some recent soul-searching of how she could best champion her core values. 

“Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she added.

While it’s easy to scoff at Sinema’s reassurances here, in some ways,  they’re less mealy-mouthed than they seem. Because regardless of how you feel about her absolute refusal to end the filibuster (and in doing so, torpedo Democrats’ efforts to protect voting rights); her donations from venture capitalists while killing tax hikes for the Wall Street set; or even that heinous thumbs down, Sinema’s claim that her behavior will not change once she leaves the party would have to mean that she was working in lockstep with Democrats to begin with. Not really her thing.

As my colleague Tim Murphy wrote in his excellent profile of the Arizona senator, Sinema’s political career has been one giant metamorphosis. She’s gone from the Green Party roots to unlikely Dem powerbroker. She once claimed donations were a form of “bribery;” now she enjoys friendships with the private equity crowd.

So, when she says that nothing will change about her behavior, Sinema’s likely telling it straight; she won’t stop constantly changing as she sees fit. 

As of now, it doesn’t appear as though Sinema’s decision to leave Democrats will result in a power-sharing agreement; she told Politico that she intends to keep her committee assignments and won’t caucus with Republicans.

But as Arizona’s dynamics shift in our post-midterms landscape, we’re almost certain to see the senator keep up with her own head-spinning changes. Just never expect an apology from her.

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