WASHINGTON — Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said she will change her party affiliation to independent, POLITICO reported, eroding the Democratic party’s slim majority in the chamber just days after Sen. Raphael Warnock was re-elected in Georgia.
In an interview, the first-term senator told POLITICO that she will not caucus with Republicans and suggested she intends to vote the same way she has for four years in the Senate.
“Nothing will change about my values or my behavior,” she said, according to the report.
Sinema targeted moderate Republican and independent women in running for office in 2018 by painting herself as a nonpartisan problem-solver who voted to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda much of the time. Her campaign focused on health care and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, AP reported at the time.
Even with the sudden switch, Democrats will still have a workable Senate majority in the next Congress, though it won’t be the 51 seats they assumed with Warnock’s victory. They’re expected to also have the votes to control Senate committees. Sinema’s unexpected move means Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — a pivotal swing vote in the 50-50 chamber the past two years — will hold onto some but not all of his outsized influence in the Democratic caucus, POLITICO said.
In the interview, Sinema declined to say whether she will run for reelection in 2024. She informed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of her decision on Thursday.
“I don’t anticipate that anything will change about the Senate structure,” Sinema said, according to the report. How her switch affects the chamber is “a question for Chuck Schumer … I intend to show up to work, do the same work that I always do,” she said. “I just intend to show up to work as an independent.”