Kyrsten Sinema: Senate Democratic staffers and strategists believe Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) had plenty of reasons to leave the Democratic Party and become an Independent. Her connection with Democrats in her home state has deteriorated to the point where she might not have been able to withstand a primary challenge in 2024.
And the timing, while her Senate colleagues were still celebrating their victory in the Georgia runoff and the prospect of having 51 Senate seats, was not unexpected, according to Democratic insiders. She had, after all, outperformed fellow Democrats multiple times in the previous two years.
“I’m not surprised, and I believe anyone who really knows Sen. Sinema would likely give the same answer,” John LaBombard, a former top aide to Sinema, said. “I think it’s a really positive step for her in terms of continuing to work on these large bipartisan deals.”
After Democrats won control of the Senate in 2021, Sinema frequently seized the spotlight, sometimes by blocking key elements of President Biden’s agenda, such as his plan to raise the corporate tax rate, and other times by taking the lead in negotiating infrastructure and gun violence legislation that gave Biden some of his biggest legislative victories.
In an interview with CNN, she stated that leaving “the party framework” was “authentic to who I am and how I operate” and would “offer a place of belonging for many others across [her] state and the country, who are likewise tired of partisanship.”
LaBombard, who now serves as a senior vice president at Rokk Solutions, a bipartisan public affairs firm, said the change in party affiliation reflects how Sinema has been operating in the Senate over the past two years as a centrist dealmaker.