Arizona’s Senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) may be planning a move that could drastically alter the United States Senate. Currently in the Senate there are 48 Democrats, two Independents and of course, Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. However, signs point to Sinema leaving the party to become an Independent, which would drop the D’s to 47.
Talking Points Memo (TPM) blog writes, “Absolutely fascinating look at Kyrsten Sinema’s efforts to position herself as an independent in Arizona, possibly formally but definitely in effect. It makes pretty clear she’s not done with politics or angling for a high dollar lobbying gig, as some speculate. She thinks she can be a latter-day McCain and build her political brand on that basis, likely looking for a promotion above the Senate.”
TPM cites an Arizona Independent who has received mailers from the Pac “Center Forward” on behalf of Sinema. The “PAC has been running a lot of local radio ads here about her bi-partisanship and the infrastructure bill…Every radio ad and piece of mail even requests that you call and tell her to ‘keep fighting as an independent voice for Arizona’s economy.”
Sinema’s history as a politician may also be indicative of her plans. “Before the start of her political career as a state legislator and then senator as a Democrat, she was in the Green Party and worked on the Nader campaign. She was extremely negative towards Lieberman and other Democrats who acted like Republicans at times. She lost a couple of races as an independent/non-partisan before winning as a Democrat in a district with a Democratic registration advantage (rare back then and still rare today). In that district, she was proud to be seen as one of the most liberal politicians in the state.”
Her stances changed, “After being called a hippie and a pagan, the experience of that first race pushed her to disassociate herself completely from her earlier policies. She had to create a political persona that could withstand attacks on her younger self.”
“When she ran her campaign for Senate, she based it heavily on her rating as a highly ‘independent’ member of Congress and her bi-partisan credentials to get things done for Arizona. It was the core of her campaign and led the campaign to focus the majority of its time and attention on going after the disaffected Flake and McCain voters.
“Independent” and “bi-partisan” and “straight talk” were used as coded words for “not a hippie” and “not fiscally liberal” as well as a “successor to John McCain”.
“The way she’s responded to the complete and utter collapse in her Democratic-leaning support by doubling-down on her ‘independent’ image tends to support the idea that she doesn’t care about losing the Democratic primary because she doesn’t think she needs that many Democrats to win it. There are more registered Independents in Arizona than Democrats so she may be right.”