By Ryan Randazzo || The Arizona Republic
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Thursday touted her December departure from the Democratic Party to become an independent as she pledged to keep working with “literally anyone” in the U.S. Capitol on laws that help Arizonans.
“I was always an independent. But I just changed that letter at the end. It was good,” said Sinema, I-Ariz., before about 450 people gathered by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Arizona Biltmore.
Sinema had attracted criticism from Democrats before the switch for bucking the party on key priorities, such as raising the federal minimum wage and eliminating the filibuster, the procedural maneuver that allows Republicans to block legislation. Her move confounded the party that hoped to extend its slim majority in the Senate.
Democrats hold 48 seats to 49 held by Republicans, but the two other independents in the 100-member chamber caucus with the Democrats.
Danny Seiden, the chamber’s president and CEO, asked Sinema how her party change affected things in Washington, D.C.
“Everyone knows I’ve always been a pain in the ass to both parties, right? Nothing about that has changed,” she quipped. “I’ve always been an independent voice for Arizona.”
She said it was “the natural evolution of who I am and how I operate.”
“In Arizona, I don’t think that many people were surprised,” she said.