Following months of speculation, Senator Kyrsten Sinema left the Democratic Party and switched to being an independent on Friday.
She'll probably continue to caucus with Democrats; however, this is an important moment in both the Senate and her previous party when it begins a new meeting in January, according to RedState.
Although Sinema hasn't officially announced whether or not she'll seek an election in 2024, It's likely to cause an uproar for both parties should she decide to run.
For Democrats, it's been evident for a long time that congressman Ruben Gallego is eyeing the Senate seat, since he's been among the most vocal opponents of Sinema. Gallego released a statement Friday morning, blasting Sinema and stating that he has “never backed down” and included a link to donate at the bottom of the message.
“Last month, the people of Arizona spoke clearly and loudly. They want officials who will put the citizens from Arizona first. We are in need of Senators who make sure that they put Arizonans over large drug companies and Wall Street bankers,” Gallego said.
“Whether in the Marine Corps or in Congress, I've never shied off in taking on behalf of Arizonans. At a time when the nation's leadership is needed most, Arizona deserves a voice that will not back down when faced with adversity. Unfortunately, Senator Sinema continues to put her own needs ahead of making things happen in the best interest of Arizonans,” he added.
The kind of rhetoric that comes from Gallego as well as other Democrats could be one of the main reasons Sinema has left the party. Sinema was slammed at the State Party in the month of January due to her vote to maintain the filibuster in place that effectively prevented “voting rights” legislation, according to NPR. If someone is deemed to be a public enemy of the party they belong to for being independent, it's more than logical to walk away.
On the Republican side, the name of a potential challenger isn't completely clear; however, the rumor mill has been circulating several names. Names will begin to surface likely in the spring and the beginning of summer.
In the end, a three-way contest could be beneficial for Republicans in the event that the Democrats choose to nominate Gallego or favor Sinema in a unique method. People who are moderate in Arizona may split between Sinema and whoever the Republican is if they're perceived to be divisive. There are plenty of independent voters in Arizona to put Sinema close to the mark and the main problem is which base will vote more frequently: the Republicans and the Democrats?
Republicans and Democrats will have to choose cautiously, as three-way contests that include all serious contenders are rare and the standard game plan for politics will need to be taken off the table.