‘Answers To Corporations And Billionaires’: Dems Blast Kyrsten Sinema After She Leaves The Party

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Arizona Democrats ripped into Kyrsten Sinema following her Friday announcement that she is leaving the party, accusing the freshman senator of selfishness.

Sinema, whose term ends in 2024, faced sustained criticism from the left wing of the Democratic Party in the 117th Congress due to her support for the filibuster and opposition to some provisions of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. She argued in a YouTube video Friday that becoming independent allows her to more fully represent her constituents, who don’t “spend a lot of time thinking about, ‘Is this a Republican idea, or is this a Democratic idea?'”

“Senator Sinema may now be registered as an Independent, but she has shown she answers to corporations and billionaires, not Arizonans. Senator Sinema’s party registration means nothing if she continues to not listen to her constituents,” the Arizona Democratic Party said in a statement.

Sinema served three terms in the Arizona legislature and three more in the House of Representatives, all as a Democrat. She was elected to the Senate in 2018, defeating Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the race to replace the retiring Jeff Flake. (RELATED: ‘A Hell Of A Lot Of Guts’: Mitch McConnell Praises Kyrsten Sinema At The University Of Louisville)

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego had publicly considered a primary challenge to Sinema. He told Politico in April that Sinema is “all about herself,” citing the senator’s lack appearances on the campaign trail for Arizona Democratic candidates Mark Kelly and Katie Hobbs.

“We need senators who will put Arizonans ahead of big drug companies and Wall Street bankers. Whether in the Marine Corps or in Congress, I have never backed down from fighting for Arizonans. And at a time when our nation needs leadership most, Arizona deserves a voice that won’t back down in the face of struggle. Unfortunately, Senator Sinema is once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans,” Gallego said in a statement Friday.

Sinema is the first sitting senator to leave their party mid-term since 2009, when Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switched from Republican to Democrat. She will maintain her committee assignments, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, although she will not attend weekly Democratic caucus meetings, according to Politico.