Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema formally ditches Democratic Party

Democrats had a lot to celebrate in the wake of the 2022 midterm elections. But whatever feelings of victory lingered were quickly dashed when one of the most prominent members of the Democratic Party formally departed in grand fashion. 

According to the Washington Examiner, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D), known as a moderate of her party, declared last week that she had enough of the party and declared herself an independent.

The news stunned Capitol Hill, as even with her moderate voting record, it’s never a good look when a high-profile party member leaves because they’re upset with the status quo.

Victory lap halted

All of the biggest names of the Democratic Party were riding high in the moments before Sinema’s devastating announcement.

Dems like Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was described as nearly “giddy” in announcing that the Sen. Ralph Warnock (D) runoff win in Georgia finally put his party in a 51–50 majority.

“They say all good things come to those who wait. And this outcome is absolutely worth the wait. After one year, 10 months, and 17 days of the longest 50-50 Senate in history, we have 51, a slim majority,” Schumer said at a press conference.

The Examiner noted:

That victory lap was interrupted Friday when Sinema announced her decision to switch parties. In an op-ed for the Arizona Republic, she blasted both Republicans and Democrats for their “rigid partisanship” and a culture that allows “the loudest, most extreme voices to determine their respective parties’ priorities,” all while “expecting the rest of us to fall in line.”

They didn’t like it

Not surprisingly, because of Sinema’s centrist leanings, radical progressives in the Dem Party trashed her immediately after the announcement was made.

“She was in grave danger of losing a Democratic primary in 2024, and now, she doesn’t have to worry about that, running as an independent,” said former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Because of her new status, she no longer has to dedicate resources and energy to fend off Democratic primary challengers. It could very well be that she made the switch based at least partly on that strategy, but either way, it’s still a massive hit to her former party.

Second Dem to defect

Of course, Sinema’s exit is the second high-profile defection in recent weeks, as former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced earlier this year that she formally exited the party.

Twitter users pointed out that perhaps Gabbard and Sinema could be two of many more that make a similar decision down the road, now that the midterms are over.

Only time will tell if more Dems join the two brave women.