Reacting to the announcement that controversial Sen. Kyrtsen Sinema (AZ) has left the Democratic Party to become an independent, CNN's Melanie Zanona and Van Jones both suggested that all eyes should be on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to see if he follows suit in an effort to continue his hold over his colleagues.
Sinema's move on Friday comes just days after the Democrats not only retained their hold on the U.S. Senate, but added another seat giving them a 51-49 majority that includes independent Senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) who both caucus with the Democrats.
According to CNN's Zanona, there are already questions about Manchin's plans.
'It's a big question, a valid question and it's unclear at this point," she told the "CNN This Morning" hosts. "I would point out there are two Independents who caucus with Democrats, Bernie Sanders and Angus King. She didn't say whether she was going to caucus with Democrats but she said she was going to keep her committee assignments. If that promise holds, Democrats still control the committees -- that was a big deal, they have control over committees -- so theoretically that won't change."
"But when it comes to the floor, Democrats aren't going to have the neat and tidy 51-49 Senate they anticipated," she elaborated. "This potentially gives Joe Manchin outsized influence again and so the question is whether Sinema feels more emboldened to vote freely and does Joe Manchin follow suit?"
"I think that fundamentally what you see now, [Rep.] Rueben Gallego (D-AZ) is going to almost certainly now challenge her for that Senate seat," co-panelist Van Jones contributed. "There's been a lot of pressure on him, a younger progressive Latino in her state. I think he probably steps up, you have to watch what he does."
"I agree, this puts Manchin in an interesting position," he continued. "Everyone is worried about the 2024 calendar where you have a lot of vulnerable Democrats. and in some ways this can seem like it's above partisanship et cetera. It could also be her reading tea leaves in her state."
"She's not an independent, she's an enigma and that is different," he added. "So watch Rueben Gallego going forward, watch Joe Manchin going forward."
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CNN 12 09 2022 07 16 11 youtu.be