Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego announced Monday he would run for the Arizona U.S. Senate seat currently held by centrist Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in December to become an independent.
In a statement, Gallego said, “As a Marine, I never back down from a fight, and in the Senate, I’ll fight to make sure every Arizonan gets the same chance at the American Dream as I had.”
Videos in English and Spanish highlighting Gallego’s humble beginnings as the son of an immigrant mother were used to launch his campaign. In one of the most competitive states in the nation, he would become the first Latino senator if elected.
The first significant contender to enter the race is Gallego. His long-anticipated ambition coincides with Sinema’s unclear intentions; the first-term senator has not said whether she will run as an independent for reelection in 2024.
“A never-ending focus on campaign politics is why so many people hate politics,” Sinema told local radio station KTAR on Friday.
Pressed by reporters Monday night, Sinema declined to offer an opinion on Gallego’s Senate campaign. A Sinema aide declined to comment on Gallego’s announcement earlier in the day.
If she runs, the main election may feature a three-way contest, with the Republicans almost sure to put out a candidate. Some Democrats worry that would favor the GOP.
“The problem isn’t that Senator Sinema abandoned the Democratic Party — it’s that she’s abandoned Arizona,” Gallego said in a statement on Monday. She has continually betrayed her commitments and championed Wall Street and big pharma at our expense. The wealthy and powerful don’t need more advocates in Washington, but families who can’t buy groceries do, so I’m running for the U.S. Senate.
In a news statement on Monday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee stated that it “welcomes” Gallego to the campaign.
Arizona is experiencing a Democrat civil war, “Philip Letsou, its spokesperson, stated. “Chuck Schumer must decide whether to support Senator Kyrsten Sinema or open borders radical Ruben Gallego.
Who May Be A Contender?
What opposition Gallego will have in the primary is unknown. Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., has declared he won’t run. A close friend of Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, a Democrat, claimed that while “many individuals have approached him,” he is currently focused on running for reelection in 2024.
Despite “many people asking her to run,” unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake is “extremely invested in the legal struggle” over the contest she lost in the midterm elections, according to a person close to her.
According to a source close to Karrin Taylor Robson, who nearly lost to Lake in the 2022 primary after spending $20 million of her family’s money, she is thinking very seriously about running for the Senate. If she runs, she will try to woo back Republicans and independents who formerly backed Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., but have since turned against the GOP, according to the source.
Blake Masters, a 2022 GOP Senate candidate who was unsuccessful, is “seriously contemplating” running again this season, according to two sources.
According to a Republican source in Arizona, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is also considering running for the Senate in 2024.
Sinema vs. Gallego
2018 saw Sinema become Arizona’s first Democrat elected to the Senate in 30 years. She has forged several bipartisan agreements in recent years and dissented from President Joe Biden on some of his top priorities, such as raising taxes on the wealthy, weakening the Senate’s requirement of 60 votes to pass a federal voting rights law, and increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Democrats in Arizona have criticized her, and she has severed connections with the state party.
If Sinema withdraws, a Gallego adviser said he is ready for a two-way campaign; if she decides to run, he is prepared for a three-way race.
The adviser claimed that framing the race as a contest between those who are “fighting for working people” and those who are “fighting for Wall Street” will work against Sinema, if she runs, as well as the eventual Republican nominee. The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
“She has no base,” the Gallego adviser said of Sinema. “If anything, she could play the spoiler.”
Gallego’s choice presents a problematic situation for Democratic leaders in the contest they view as essential to winning to keep the Senate majority next year. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the Senate, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have remained mum over their support for Sinema should she decide to run.
New on @MSNBC: Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego is expected to announce on Monday that he’s running for U.S. Senate in Arizona for Kyrsten Sinema’s seat.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 20, 2023
According to Sinema’s supporters, the Democrats’ success in the 2022 midterm elections was due to her efforts to reach agreements with Republicans on infrastructure and a small gun safety measure. Some have questioned whether Gallego’s more liberal past is appropriate for Arizona, a once-reliable Republican state now quite competitive. Biden won the state in 2020. Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat from Arizona, won the election for the Senate in that year and 2022.
Sinema’s circumstance is distinct. According to Schumer, the Democratic Party will appoint her to Senate committees over the next two years. She doesn’t attend caucus meetings, though. She has tried to remove herself from the party, in contrast to the liberal-leaning independent senators Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Gallego’s campaign cited a survey last month by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling firm, which tested a three-way race between Gallego, Sinema, and hypothetical Republican candidate Kari Lake. Lake got 41% in that survey, Gallego 40%, and Sinema 13%.
In a document distributed by Gallego’s campaign, PPP pollster Tom Jensen stated that Sinema might have a spoiler impact even if she would not have a realistic chance of winning as an independent because she receives 14% of the support from Biden voters but just 9% from Trump voters.