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Sinema’s exit from Democratic Party opens the door for a GOP pickup — Could she run as a Republican?

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Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced her departure from the Democratic Party to become an Independent on Friday morning. The move made headlines, though many Democrats, and Sinema herself, don’t see her defection as particularly surprising.

An unabashed centrist and staunch defender of the filibuster, Sinema has exercised outsized influence in the Senate throughout her first term. Sinema’s propensity to rein in the Biden agenda has earned the senator blowback from some in the Democratic Party. 

The Arizona Senator will not state publicly if she will seek re-election in 2024, but her defection removes the threat of a possible primary challenge from another Democrat. 

Sinema has so far said that she will not caucus with Republicans and her voting behavior will not change; however, Republicans could still renew efforts to recruit Sinema into the GOP’s camp in the meantime.

In late 2021, Senate Minority Whip John Thune told Newsweek that he has tried to court Sinema multiple times in the past. The South Dakota Senator did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on if they will renew these efforts.  

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a potential successor to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has remained vague on the matter, saying he would be surprised if Republicans mounted a serious challenge to Sinema in 2024, in an interview with Politico last year. 

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton invited Sinema to ‘dip her toe in the Republican Party’s pool’ in an interview on Fox & Friends Friday morning. Cotton noted that he has welcomed Sinema to join the GOP various times throughout her term in office.  

Republicans don’t have a clear front-runner in the Arizona U.S. Senate race; however, Kari Lake, one of the most well-known Republicans in the state, could be a potential contender given her narrow loss in Arizona’s gubernatorial race. Some have also floated Lake as a possible running mate on the Trump 2024 presidential campaign.   

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., who has expressed dissatisfaction with Sinema in the past, is widely expected to enter the Democratic primary for Sinema’s seat, though the congressman has not announced a bid.

Arizona’s electorate is split in almost even thirds between registered Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters.

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