A number of elected Democrats have announced they are leaving the Democrat Party in recent weeks despite success during the midterm elections, raising the specter of a retention problem as the political schism in the United States widens.
Democrats are jumping ship at the local, state, and federal levels. Some are going to the Republican Party and others such as Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema are opting to become Independents.
Sinema has gone her own way on issues despite intense pressure from Democrats. She has not toed the line on key issues, infuriating leftists. The senator wrote an op-ed for the Arizona Republic making her announcement, citing increasingly partisan interests and radicalization of both political parties as her reason for fleeing progressives.
“When politicians are more focused on denying the opposition party a victory than they are on improving Americans’ lives, the people who lose are everyday Americans,” Sinema said in her op-ed. “That’s why 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.”
Good to see @KyrstenSinema leaving the Democrat Party.
Just this year we’ve had @TulsiGabbard & Senator Sinema – both high profile Democrats – change parties.
Hope many more see the light!
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) December 9, 2022
Sinema is part of a growing number of Democrats who feel estranged from their own party. New York City Councilman Ari Kagan, who was elected to the council in 2021 as a Democrat, announced last week that he would leave the party and register as a Republican. Sen. Glenn Jeffries in West Virginia likewise announced in December that he would flip to the GOP.
Kagan declared at a news conference, “The Democratic Party in New York was moving to [the] left at such a speed I couldn’t keep up. It’s not me leaving the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party very quickly started to leave me.”
Jeffries stated on his way out the door, “Our politics have gotten so personal and difficult. I have the greatest respect for the many friends and supporters I have been blessed with during my time in public office. I hope to continue and strengthen those relationships going forward.”
Democrats still narrowly control the Senate by a razor-thin margin. But Republicans control the House of Representatives. Political strategists are divided about why some Democrats are leaving their party although many Americans see it as simple self-preservation.
Kevin Seifert, who served as chief of staff to former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, told Fox News that he thinks “Democrats have an ideological problem because of their woke, progressive base.”
“Progressive activists literally chased Sen. Sinema into a bathroom when she wouldn’t agree to their policy demands on immigration,” he recounted. “In recent cycles, they systematically primaried moderate Democrats who didn’t toe the far-left line. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that leaders are responding to these overt pressure tactics by leaving the party and becoming independents.”
Senator Kyrsten Sinema leaving Democrat Party to register as an independent. Maybe Dems following her into the bathroom to yell at her wasn’t the greatest idea?
— Pamela Hensley🇺🇸 (@PamelaHensley22) December 9, 2022
“Most Americans want elected leaders working on a bipartisan basis to solve problems and, because progressive Democrats have seemingly no interest in doing this, Sen. Sinema and others are smartly positioning themselves differently,” Seifert commented. “They should be applauded for putting their constituents first, rather than kowtowing to the Democratic Party’s loudest and most extreme voices.”
A number of leftist strategists are contending that Sinema’s departure has nothing to do with the success of Democrats, but has to do with her calculations in winning the next election.
“I don’t think this has anything to do with retention issues,” Jessica Tarlov, a Democratic strategist who serves as the head of research for Bustle, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “Sinema made a strategic decision to avoid a primary that she would’ve lost to [Democrat Rep. Ruben] Gallego.”
“As an independent, she knows that a three-way race would be handed to the GOP,” Tarlov, a Fox News contributor, remarked. “She’s keeping her assignments and caucusing with Dems, votes with Biden 90%-plus. This isn’t about a problem with Democrats.”
Tom Cotton on Krysten Sinema leaving the Democrats:
“It’s a reflection on the Democrat Party and just how extreme it’s become in recent years… If she wanted to dip a toe into the Republican Party's pool we'd be happy to have her jump in with us as well."pic.twitter.com/WjYoRh3Jth
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) December 9, 2022
Another Democrat strategist named Sarah Norman who served as senior adviser for Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign, said she believes Sinema’s decision to leave the party came because she “was going to lose a primary and is trying to blackmail Democrats into functionally letting her run for re-election alone.”
“If Democrats had lost badly, Sinema could have pushed to say that only she can win in Arizona in current conditions,” Norman claimed. “We saw in 2022 that Arizona is totally winnable by a normal Democrat, which means any argument she had in a primary is gone.”
As for Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia leaving the Democrat Party, strategists don’t think it will ever happen.
“Joe Manchin will switch parties the day after the sun rises in the west,” said one Republican strategist who works in West Virginia politics, according to Fox News. He said that Manchin’s connection to the party reflects a “deep sense of identity” for the senator.
“He views their progressive turn as an aberration, historically speaking,” the strategist claimed. “Expect him to spend the next two years voting against everything Biden wants in an effort to restore his brand as a moderate and to bury memories of his dishonesty on Build Back Better. He despises the Republican Party and would never join it.”
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