- Sen. Kirsten will quit the Cinema Democrats and register as an independent.
- Cinema is now independent and will avoid the primary challenge from the left.
- But it could complicate the Democrats’ ability to win the 2024 presidential election.
Arizona Sen. Kirsten Sinema withdrew from the Democratic Party on Friday, effectively upping Arizona’s battleground status ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
After Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., won his re-election bid Tuesday, Sinema said he would register as an independent, reducing the Democrats’ 51-49 control of the Senate.
Political experts said Sinema’s move complicates his party’s ability to hold onto the seat and the Senate in 2024, not to mention its efforts to win key Arizona electoral votes in that year’s presidential election.
If Sinema runs for re-election and another Democrat runs for Senate, it could split left-leaning voters and pave the way for a Republican to win the seat.
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“He’s put (Senate Majority Leader Chuck) Schumer, DNY and the Democrats in a very tight spot,” said Adam Hilton, assistant professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College. “It was a smart move on her part.”
Cinema is a thorn in the side of Democrats
Before his surprise announcement, many Democrats expressed their anger at the movie.
Cinema, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Along with Joe Manchin, he blocked the party from changing filibuster rules and passing the Voting Rights Act — to the fury of the Democratic base.
Both senators were instrumental in blocking the trillion-dollar Build Back Better Act, which would have expanded Medicare, funded universal pre-kindergarten and included climate change moves.
Some Democrats celebrated his departure after Friday’s announcement. “Bye Felicia,” Progressive Rep. Jamal Bowman, D-N.Y., tweeted.
Still other Democrats are cautious.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre called the cinema a “key partner” in a statement Friday.
“We understand that his decision to register as an independent in Arizona will not change the new Democratic majority control of the Senate,” Jean-Pierre said. “We have every reason to expect that we will continue to work successfully with her.”
Senate surprise:Kirsten left the Cinema Democrats and registered as an independent
It’s too early to tell whether cinema will cost President Joe Biden Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in 2024, said Alex Alvarez, executive director of Progress Arizona, a digital center for progressive Arizona. But he said it’s still possible for Democrats to win the Grand Canyon State.
“We’re going to continue to build on those victories in 2024 and make sure the presidency is in Democratic hands,” Alvarez said.
‘Red stage with purple spots’
Unlike national Democrats, Stacey Pearson, co-founder of Arizona-based political consulting firm Lumen Strategies, said Arizonans aren’t surprised by Cinema’s departure from the party.
“She never committed to going left,” Pearson said. “If he’s elected, he promises to govern for the majority of Arizonans. And most Arizonans are not Democrats.”
No Democratic presidential candidate won the state until President Joe Biden won Arizona by just 0.3% in 2020. Bill Clinton from the 1996 presidential election. Between 2008 and 2018, when Sinema and other Democrats won their races, Democratic candidates Arizona has not won statewide racesAt any level, one.
Fall of Cinema Party Switch:Announcement of Cinema and K
Since then, Democrats have picked up two U.S. Senate seats, most recently Sen. Mark Kelly won re-election this year, winning several House seats. Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Republican Kari Lake to win the state’s governorship. But that’s more a reflection of the state’s Republican candidates than Democrats, Pearson said.
That doesn’t mean the state is turning blue — or even turning purple, said Paul Bentz, senior vice president of Highground, Inc., an Arizona political consulting group.
“The fact of the matter is, Arizona is not a purple state; it’s a red state with purple spots,” Bentz said. “It’s more of a Dr. Seuss character than a real solidified platform. We’re a microcosm of the country.”
Georgia Senate Runoff:A Warnock victory gives Democrats a 51-seat Senate majority in the 2022 midterm overtime battle.
How will Democrats fare in 2024?
Cinema’s move refocuses attention in the Senate on the maverick senator, experts said.
“I think it’s going to be challenging and interesting to watch the messaging in the next couple of years because there’s a lot of focus on cinema right now, the way she wants it,” Bentz said. “Looking at what’s going on with the Senate majority, it was already running between her and Manchin, and now it’s definitely running through her and putting her in a central position to get things done.”
If Sinema runs for re-election as an independent — and he hasn’t announced it — he will now ignore a challenge from Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and the leftist, because he doesn’t have to go Democratic. First of all.
“If Cinema runs for re-election, it’s going to be very difficult for a Democrat to win that seat,” said Kim Fridkin, a political science professor at Arizona State University. “Democrats can’t win without independents, and they’ll need cross-over support from moderate Republicans. Still, independents and moderate Republicans will support cinema, I think.”
If Cinema runs for re-election as an independent in 2024, Democrats’ priorities in the Grand Canyon State could be split between supporting its own in-party candidate for the Senate seat and ensuring Cinema stays in line as long as he holds the seat.
2024 Election:The Democrats’ new presidential calendar may invite confusion. Iowa, New Hampshire vow to rebel
Keeping peace with cinema without alienating key voters and simultaneously stalling a presidential candidate is complicated. Arizona has played an increasingly important role in helping Democrats win national elections.
In 2020, Arizona flipped from former President Donald Trump to Biden. In 2024, it will again be the state where Democrats invest heavily.
Is MAGA a boon for Republicans?
Additionally, experts said, it could benefit Republicans who lean toward Trumpism and the MAGA faction of the GOP. During the 2022 midterm elections, several Trump-backed candidates lost Senate races, including Arizona’s plague masters Sen. were at Kelly’s. While GOP primary voters were excited by these candidates, general election voters soundly rejected them.
But Arizona could prove different in 2024.
“If the Arizona Republican base picks another, let’s call it a high-risk MAGA Republican candidate for Senate, but you’ve effectively got a three-way race that could actually be the path to victory for a MAGA Republican from Arizona.” said Hilton, a political scientist at Mount Holyoke.
But Pearson said Cinema’s departure won’t be bad for national Democrats.
“It prevents (cinema) from running against a partisan purist from the left, preventing a silly debate between partisan purism and good policy,” Pearson said. “I think what it’s going to do is run a partisan purist for the Democrats and see how that goes.”