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Oh Look, Kyrsten Sinema Found a Way To Make Democrats’ Midterm Victory All About Her

Kyrsten Sinema looks askance standing next to Susan Collins.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has switched her party affiliation to match her behavior and is officially no longer a Democrat. She announced Friday that she’s now registered as an Independent because she’s incapable of not making things all about her.

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Sinema’s switch won’t do too much to affect Democrats’ Senate majority after Raphael Warnock’s Georgia win gave the party a 51st seat. (Technically, that majority has included two Independents who caucus with Democrats, though we can’t expect that to be the case with Sinema as she didn’t even vote with her party when she was a Dem.)

That extra vote gained by Warnock meant that outliers like Sinema and Joe Manchin now had far less power to hijack issues, as they love to do. But Sinema’s party switch essentially hands a whole lot of that power back to Manchin, who now retains the ability to exploit his party’s slim margin and make demands to appease his ego and wallet, just like he did with Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Manchin held up that vote until the package was severely watered-down and even renamed to his liking.

Sinema has just handed that level of power back over to him and also put herself in a position where Democrats will have to grovel for her cooperation in all matters moving forward.

When is Kyrsten Sinema up for re-election?

Sinema said her decision was made in the pursuit of bipartisanship, a declaration of her “independence from the broken partisan system in Washington.”

In reality, it seems very likely that she simply knew she wouldn’t survive a Democratic primary election. She’s not up for reelection until 2024 but the timing of her announcement makes sense as she now has two full years to tap her wealthy conservative and corporate donors for all the fundraising dollars possible.

She also she gets to recenter the conversation around Democrats’ midterm successes to now be about herself.

Those corporate donors are going to have to cough up a lot of cash, since Sinema has a chilly 37% approval rating across all parties—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

(image: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.