The much-publicized announcement Friday by Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of her new "independent" affiliation was greeted with cheers by Republicans.
While the Sinema move does not look good for Democrats at first glance, we need to understand what she has actually done.
Despite the claims for leaving the party, Sinema will keep her committees as assigned by the Democrat majority.
Importantly, she will still caucus with the Democrats. That means she continues to give them the power to control the Senate.
So what is independent about this arrangement?
The fact is Sinema has not been the maverick Democrat she has purported herself to be.
"You name the issue — abortion, the death penalty, raising taxes, gun control — and you'll find her coming down on the left," former Arizona GOP Chairman Randy Pullen told Newsmax.
"And [Sinema] is not likely to change those positions," he added.
Sinema has consistently received liberal ratings for her voting record, getting 100% by the leftwing ACLU, 80% score with the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and 100% with the AFL-CIO.
Still, Sinema did stand her ground on what she considered excesses in President Joe Biden's costly Build Back Better (BBB) legislation but, in the end, voted for its passage.
The Arizona lawmaker did tick off Democrats by holding the line in voting to uphold the filibuster. Her spokesman recently said she is "not open to changing her mind" on the issue.
So why did Sinema make this dramatic move?
Well, some see the Democrat brand as toxic in Red States and, increasingly, in Purple States like Arizona.
Pullen and other Republicans in Arizona think Sinema's decision to leave the Democratic Party was just a clever make-over before she faces voters again in 2024.
Although Democrats did well in Arizona this past election — winning the Senate and governorship jobs — both contests were close.
For now, Sinema joins Angus King, the "independent" senator from purple Maine, who also caucuses with the Democrats and votes mostly along party lines.
Perhaps this will be a growing trend of once Democrat senators who claim an "independent" mantle — all while changing nothing but their title.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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