Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and moderate Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) had different reactions to Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema‘s decision to ditch the Democrats and become an independent.
Tester brushed off Sinema’s disaffiliation Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying it does not matter because she will still caucus with Democrats. But Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, blasted Sinema as a “corporate Democrat” who “sabotaged” the party’s agenda.
“I was surprised that she made the change, but functionally, I don’t think it changes a thing,” Tester said. “I think we’re going to continue doing the same thing we were doing, whether she’s an independent or part of the Democratic caucus.”
“It’s about keeping relationships in Washington, D.C., if you’re gonna get things done, and I think Kyrsten Sinema knows that,” he added. “And I think, whether she’s a Democrat or a Republican, that really doesn’t matter. The label doesn’t matter. What matters is, you’ve gotta have somebody in Washington, D.C., that wants to get things done and move things forward.”
WATCH: Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) says “functionally, I don’t think it changes a thing” that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party. @SenatorTester: “I look forward to working with her as I have in the past.” pic.twitter.com/zpauZoCckS
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) December 11, 2022
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sanders rebuked Sinema for putting her electoral concerns ahead of the party’s agenda.
“I think the Democrats there are not all that enthusiastic about somebody who helped sabotage some of the most important legislation that protects the interests of working families and voting rights and so forth. So, I think it really has to do with her political aspirations for the future in Arizona.”
“She is a corporate Democrat who has, in fact, along with [West Virginia Democratic] Senator [Joe] Manchin, sabotaged enormously important legislation,” he added.
“She’s a corporate Democrat … “
— CNN (@CNN) December 11, 2022
A top Democratic adviser explained Friday that Sinema’s decision likely was prompted by near-universal discontent among Arizona Democrats.
“I’ve seen polling (recent polling even),” Tony Cani, former Deputy Director of the 2020 Biden campaign in Arizona, wrote on Twitter. “Sinema gets crushed in a primary by any dem. Dissatisfaction w/ the way she operates is not a left-wing thing. Dems of all ages & ideologies are frustrated with the way she operates, plus the vast majority of Rs will vote for an R nominee. Ds across the spectrum dislike the way Sinema operates so much that she gets no credit for passing widely popular legislation. Her significant legislative wins this session has not improved her standing even a little. Voters have made up their minds about her & have not budged.”