U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, registers as independent

U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) walks from her hideaway office to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S.

Arizona U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema said on Friday she had switched her political party affiliation to independent, leaving the Democratic Party just days after it won a U.S. Senate race in Georgia to secure 51 seats in the chamber.

“I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington. I registered as an Arizona independent,” she said in a op-ed for local media outlet Arizona Central.

Sinema, in a separate Politico interview published on Friday, said she would not caucus with the Republican Party. If that holds, Democrats could still maintain greater governing control in the closely divided chamber.

Democrats had held the Senate 50-50 with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris holding a tie-breaking vote. U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory in Tuesday’s run-off election in Georgia had handed them their 51st seat.

Two other current senators – Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine – are registered independents but generally caucus with Democrats.

Sinema on Friday said her shift came as a growing number of people in her Western U.S. state were also declaring themselves politically independent, rejecting both the Republican and Democratic political labels.

“Like a lot of Arizonans, I have never fit perfectly in either national party,” she wrote.

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