Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Sunday that “political aspirations” drove Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s exit from the Democratic Party, as he vowed to take a “hard look” at supporting a potential Democratic challenge to her in Arizona.
“She has her reasons. I happen to suspect that it’s probably a lot to do with politics back in Arizona. I think the Democrats are not all that enthusiastic about somebody who helps sabotage some of the most important legislation that protects the interests of working families and voting rights and so forth,” Sanders told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“So I think it really has to do with her political aspirations for the future in Arizona, but for us, I think, nothing much has changed in terms of the functioning of the US Senate,” the Vermont progressive added.
Sinema announced last week she was leaving the Democratic Party and registering as a political independent, a move that is unlikely to change the power balance in the next Senate. Democrats will have a narrow 51-49 majority that includes two independents who caucus with them: Sanders and Angus King of Maine.
She is up for reelection in 2024 and liberals in Arizona are already floating potential challengers, including Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who said earlier this year that some Democratic senators have urged him to run against Sinema.
Asked Sunday whether he would support a potential Democratic challenge to Sinema, Sanders said, “I support progressive candidates all over this country, people who have the guts to take on powerful special interests.”
“I don’t know what is going to be happening in Arizona. We’ll see who they nominate but certainly that’s something that I will take a hard look at.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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