Some liberal media pundits and commentators were stunned — or not surprised, but still angered — Friday morning after Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent.
The news broke just days after Democrats celebrated expanding a slim majority in the Senate after winning in Georgia. Fellow independents Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont caucus with Democrats, and Sinema has said she will not caucus with Republicans.
Some Democrats, liberal media anchors and political commentators erupted with anger and shock at Sinema’s decision, including Democratic operative Adam Parkhomenko fuming, "I see Kyrsten Sinema is still great at being the f---ing worst."
Left-wing MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan also reacted to the news: "In the most shocking, surprising, and unexpected news in modern American political history, Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party, which makes sense because 1) she was never really a Democrat, and 2) she can’t win a Dem primary in 2024. So Sinema being Sinema…"
Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who previously claimed that he dated Sinema, roasted her on Twitter: "You are ethically unfit to continue serving as a United States Senator - manipulative, deceptive, messianic, without principles. I urge you to resign your office immediately."
MSNBC analyst Brittany Packnett Cunningham called it "confirmation that she is the worst," and far-left activist Charlotte Clymer wrote, "Her own greed and narcissism is her political party."
"Sinema has been planning this move for years. She’s been openly moving toward this with every hypocritical, self-serving move she’s made, from climate change to the filibuster. This has been the most cynical marketing effort in American politics and the worst kept secret in D.C.," Clymer wrote, predicting she was trying to at some point join a Republican national ticket.
Sinema has voted reliably with President Biden while in office, however, supporting his agenda 93 percent of the time, according to data website FiveThirty Eight.
Some figures more soberly assessed her decision.
"Obvious point but Sinema was almost certainly going to draw a primary challenge and was going to have a very tough race," MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted. He also complained that the other Democratic senator in Arizona, Mark Kelly, won his race with "way less drama."
"We don’t actually know what’s going on in the mind of Kyrsten Sinema, but sometimes we can look at her and we can ask ourselves: What’s she thinking?" MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough said on "Morning Joe."
"She is less of an independent and more of an enigma," CNN political contributor Van Jones said on "CNN This Morning," calling her a "confounding political presence."
"What do you stand for and what do you stand against?" Jones asked, accusing her of "just gumming up" the Democratic Party. CNN reporter Melanie Zanona backed up Jones: "She likes being called an enigma. She probably relishes in that."
Sinema tweeted Friday morning that she has "joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington and formally registering as an Arizona Independent."
In an interview with CNN anchor Jake Tapper, Sinema was warned that Democrats were going to call her "every name in the book." "They're going to call you traitor, an ingrate," Tapper said. It wouldn't be the first time she has been insulted for her unorthodox political views. In September, Sinema was labeled the "worst kind of Democrat" by critics.
Sinema similarly defended her decision in an op-ed for the Arizona Republic, arguing that she was "declaring" her independence from "the broken partisan system in Washington."
"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," she wrote in the op-ed.