(NewsNation) — Saying she doesn’t want to be a part of the “broken partisan system in Washington,” Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona announced she has registered as an independent, though she does not plan to caucus with Republicans.
“You might call it, not a cry not for help, but a cry for relevancy,” NewsNation’s Leland Vittert said during an appearance on “Morning in America” Friday.
Not only does the party affiliation switch make Sinema “interesting and edgy,” Vittert said, it also opens up “enormous fundraising possibilities” for her from organizations who want out of America’s two-party political system.
“All these groups have a lot of billionaire-backed money behind them to come up with some kind of middle ground,” he said. “This opens her up to receive the benefit of all those donations.”
“It took away (Democratic West Virginia U.S. Sen.) Joe Manchin’s, and for that matter, Kyrsten Sinema’s, unilateral veto power that caused enormous problems for Democrats over the past two years,” Vittert said. Both senators have typically broken away from other Democrats’ positions on legislation, making it harder for the party to get some bills passed.
Because Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in midterms, Sinema went from being an “incredibly important fixture” in Congress to just another one of 51 Senate Democrats on a split Capitol Hill, Vittert continued.
“I’m not sure there’s any indication that she’s has changed any of her political views. Perhaps this just raises the cost to Democrats to continue to keep her happy,” he said.
A question to ask in coming days is: What does Sinema get out of this?
“Forgive my cynicism of politicians, but you do this because you want something,” Vittert said.
One reason is the ability to run unopposed in a primary election, Vittert said.
“That speaks a little bit to the idea that she is trying to insulate herself against a potential primary challenge that she would have had as a Democrat, and save the war chest for what would be the general election,” Vittert said.
Changing one’s party affiliation could also be leveraged to get certain committee assignments from Democratic leaders, he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.