The Weekly Podcast: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Six Other Senate Party Defectors

By | December 15, 2022

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and the Six Senate Party Defectors.

A new indy band out of Arizona?

Nope — it’s the new episode of C-SPAN’s podcast “The Weekly.”

First, some fun facts:

• Of the six most recent Senate independents, Kyrsten Sinema is only the second from a state not in New England.

• The Senate now has three Independents serving at the same time — the most ever.

• And Sinema is the first independent or third-party Senator who is a woman.

Since 1890 and before Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in December 2022, 21 Senators changed parties during their Senate service.

In “The Weekly,” we remember six of those 21 Senators… the six most recent – the ones who defected on C-SPAN.

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You know in our state Um over the last two years over 500 000 New registrants registered as Independents they're the fastest growing Group in our state and so for Democrats You can't just go campaign to Democrats You have to campaign to Republicans and You have to campaign to Independence That was Democratic Arizona state Representative Kirsten Cinema September 7th 2009 now here is democratic Arizona State senator Kirsten Cinema July 2nd 2011. For years Arizona has been an Independent feisty State now here's Kirsten Cinema again October 15 2018 Democratic member of the U.S Congress Kirsten Cinema I often do vote against My own party and that's something I Think arizonans depend on and are proud Of they want an independent voice in the United States Congress okay one more June 22nd 2022 Kirsten Cinema United States Senator I promised arizonans that I would be an independent leader for our State and that I would ignore the chaos Of Washington and instead just focus on Getting things done It won't surprise anyone who might be Listening today when I tell you that Washington hasn't always liked my Approach all this talk over the years From Senator Cinema about being Independent it probably won't surprise

Anyone who's been watching her in C-SPAN That she just left the Democratic party To become an independent registering is An independent and showing showing at Work And it's a reflection of who Arizona is Yes her defection made lots of news but Wasn't entirely surprising and Kirsten Cinema wasn't the first Senator to Change parties while in office According to the Senate historian since 1890 and before Cinema in December 2022 21 Senators changed parties during their Senate service In this episode of c-span's the weekly We remember six of those 21 Senators the Six most recent the ones who defected on C-Span first three fun facts about Kirsten Cinema becoming an independent Three days after Democrats secured a 51-49 senate majority one of the six Most recent Senate Independents Senator Cinema is only the second from a state Not in New England two the Senate now Has three Independents serving at the Same time the most ever and three Senator Cinema is the first independent Or third party senator who was a woman So she's already made history but for Practical purposes in Senate operations Time will tell how significant her Becoming an independent is Here's a Defector we knew immediately Would result in a Monumental change Jim

Jeffords May 24 2001 was a political earthquake Vermont Senator Jeffords upset the Balance of power in the Senate by Switching from Republican to Independent He said he would caucus with the Democrats the senate had been evenly Divided Senator Jeffords defection gave The Democrats a slim majority Senator Jeffords made his announcement during a News conference in Burlington he was Interrupted by cheering supporters in Order to best represent my state of Vermont By own conscience and principles I stood For my whole life I will leave the Republican party and Become an independent Control of the Senate [Applause] Sorry for that Control of the Senate will be changed by My decision [Applause] He was right power flipped Jim Jeffords Remained in the Senate until 2007 when He was replaced by another Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders Senator Jeffords defection was the most dramatic And consequential in the C-SPAN era but Let's hear from the others too starting In 1994 the day after Republicans gained Control of Congress Alabama Senator Richard Shelby left the Democratic party

To become a Republican Here's Senator Shelby's November 9 1994 Announcement for 16 years eight years in The house and eight years in the Senate I've tried Hard to work within the Democratic party A party that I grew up with in the south But I I can tell you it has been Frustrating because I thought there was Room in the Democratic party for a Conservative Southern Democrats such as Myself representing my people from Alabama and other areas of the South but I can tell you there's not There's nothing [Applause] So officially right now I am changing Parties to a party of Hope For America Not a party of dependency to the Republican Party effective immediately Republicans won the majority in both Chambers in the 1994 election So while Senator Shelby's flip didn't Change the balance of power it did mean He was still in the majority when Congress began a new session that Following January A few months later still in the Aftermath of the Republicans romp in 1994 Colorado Senator Ben nighthorse Campbell followed Shelby's lead On March 3rd 1995 Senator Campbell left The Democratic party and joined the Majority Republican party his seniority

Was maintained As you know this morning I am announcing My change of affiliation to the Republican Party [Applause] That shouldn't after all the leaks Around this place that shouldn't have Come as a big surprise I saw it on news This morning before I even made uh made My morning cup of coffee Senator Campbell mentioned watching TV the next Senator who flipped also referred to his Television watching On July 13 1999 New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith left the Republican Party he Became an independent and get this he Left the Republican Party while he was a Presidential candidate he made his Announcement on the senate floor and Mentioned a TV show and the TV show's Co-host the champ chairman of the New Hampshire Republican party where for 15 Years I've been a member went on CrossFire the Other night to debate Bob Smith but Bob Smith wasn't there to answer for himself He took the anti-bob position He attacked me viciously saying it was a Selfish move and that it meant the end Of my political career Something a little strange in that If it's selfish Then how can I and I'm throwing away my Political career maybe somebody could

Explain what he means Not a mention Of 15 years of service to the state and To the party even Bill press said can't You find something nice To say about Bob What About Bob well there's a part two To his story Just a few months later on November 1st 1999 Senator Bob Smith announced his Return to the Republican Party he noted That since his hometown in New Hampshire Had not yet changed his voter Registration he had technically never Left the Republican party oh by the way It just so happened that Senator Smith's Return to the Republican party coincided With the death of Rhode Island Republican senator John Chaffee his Chairmanship of the environment Committee was then given to Bob Smith Holy coincidence Next from the nearby New England state Of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman Joe Lieberman was elected as a Democrat to The U.S Senate in 1988 and re-elected in 1994 and 2000 in 2006 though Senator Lieberman lost the Connecticut Democratic primary when the results came In on August 8 2006 Senator Lieberman Announced he would run in the general Election as an independent Tomorrow morning Our campaign

Will file the necessary petitions The Connecticut Secretary of State's Office So that we can continue this campaign For a New Politics of unity and purpose Senator Lieberman 1 and served as an Independent Democrat from 2007 to 2013. Finally Arlen Spector Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector was elected as a Republican to the U.S Senate in 1980 and Re-elected in 1986 1992 1998 and 2004. But on April 28 2009 facing a tough Primary Senator Specter announced he was Becoming a Democrat Oh I am not prepared to have my 29-year record in the United States Senate presiding by the Pennsylvania Republican primary election not prepared To have that record Decided by that jury Pennsylvania Republican primary elective But I'm prepared to take on all comers Alzheimer's In the general election And therefore I've decided to be a Candidate for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary Senator spector's flip gave Senate Democrats 59 votes one short of the 60 Needed to avoid Republican filibusters But Senator specter's effort to boost His re-election bid did not work he lost The 2010 Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania which brings us back to

Senator Kirsten Cinema she was facing a Tough 2024 Democratic Primary in Arizona When she became an independent And now our bonus clip so much modern Political history is connected to Joe Biden why should Senator Arlen specter's Party switch be any different From April 29 2009 at the White House With President Barack Obama and newly Minted Democratic senator Arlen Spector Here is Vice President Joe Biden and the People of Pennsylvania are going to Continue to benefit from his fears and I Emphasize and I need not tell you Mr President his Fierce commitment to the People of Pennsylvania and of this Country so Mr President I am pleased to Introduce a man of immense personal Courage and uh unmatched Integrity my Friend Arnold Specter thank you that's It for this episode of c-spans the Weekly time for you to do your own Searching in the C-SPAN video library You've heard us talk about senators who Changed parties here's your assignment Look up Representatives who changed Parties just go to and use a Search bar on top all for free thanks For listening and happy searching [Music] Thank you