Dems the breaks: Why Democrats in all but name are refusing to run under the party banner

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Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Angus King (I-ME) AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Rich Pedroncelli

Dems the breaks: Why Democrats in all but name are refusing to run under the party banner

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The current U.S. Senate has 50 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and three independents, but the caucuses are evenly split 50-50 between the GOP and Democrats.

The three independent Senators tend to align with the Democratic Party but are not registered as such, with Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) being the latest defection. Here are why each independent Senator says they are registered as such, rather than with the Democratic Party.


Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Sanders, a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President twice, losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. Despite having run for a Democratic nomination in 2016, Sanders doubled down on being an independent at a town hall in 2017.

“I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do,” Sanders said.

In terms of what makes Sanders “independent” from the Democratic Party is his policies tend to be more left-wing than the Democratic Party, such as Medicare-for-all and his proposed “Wall Street reform” which would break up big banks.

Sanders first won his Senate seat in 2006, running as an independent.

Angus King (I-ME)

King says he was originally registered as a Democrat but then re-registered as an independent in 1994 when running for governor of Maine. The junior Senator from Maine says he does not feel like he fits in to either party and that he looks for “common sense-solutions.”

“I didn’t feel comfortable with the, with the Democrats on, on the taxation, regulation side. I didn’t feel comfortable with the Republicans on the social issue side, on the abortion and those kinds of things. So I said, ‘Hell, I think I’m gonna take a path up the middle,'” King told CBS News’ 60 Minutes in 2021.

King first won his Senate seat in 2012, running as an independent in a three-way race. Despite his claims of independence, King has voted 98.3% of the time with President Joe Biden’s position in the current Congress, per FiveThirtyEight.

Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ)

Sinema defected from the Democratic Party earlier this month, after being previously registered as a Democrat, saying that registering as an independent is a “reflection of who I’ve always been,” in her announcement video.

“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,” Sinema wrote in an op-ed with the Arizona Republic. “That’s why I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington.”

Sinema first won her Senate seat in 2018, running as a Democrat.


Although there are currently only three independent Senators, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has hinted at potentially leaving the Democratic Party. Although he has previously denied claims he would leave the party, recent statements have him distancing himself from Democrats.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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