Ruben Gallego running for Kyrsten Sinema’s Arizona Senate seat



Rep. Ruben Gallego announced he will run for the US Senate from Arizona on Monday, setting up a possible three-way race in the 2024 battleground state that poses a threat to Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s dominance in the seat.

Gallego, a Navy veteran who has served on the House since 2015, announced his candidacy in a video in both English and Spanish that emphasized his military service and the experience of growing up as a first-generation American.

“The rich and powerful don’t need more defenders,” Gallego said in the video, which shows him addressing veterans at Post 124 of the American Legion in Guadalupe. “It’s the people who are still trying to decide between groceries and utilities who need a fighter for them.”

Gallego also took direct aim at Sinema in a statement, saying she had “abandoned Arizona” and “repeatedly broke her promises and fought for the interests of big pharma and Wall Street at our expense.”

The announcement comes just a month after Sinema surprised Democrats in Washington by leaving the party and registering as an independent, calling the move “a reflection of who I’ve always been.” Sinema, a first-term moderate who has been in the throes of several bipartisan deals in the Senate over the past year, has yet to announce whether she will seek re-election.

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Gallego, who has more than $1 million in cash on hand, is the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in Arizona and becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee, after another possible nominee, Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), announced last week he wouldn’t look for the office. Gallego’s campaign plans to focus heavily on mobilizing the state’s Latino and youth vote. The congressman would be the state’s first Latino senator, if elected.

Gallego’s candidacy creates a dilemma for national Democrats, who must choose whether to allocate their considerable resources to supporting a Democratic candidate for the seat or supporting an independent incumbent who votes broadly Democratic but is unpopular with many grassroots voters at home. . In previous races, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) has supported independents who agree with the Democrats. The 2024 roadmap to retaining a Senate majority is brutal for Democrats, who are defending 23 seats, and a three-way race in mandatory state would add to their headaches.

“The Democratic civil war is raging in Arizona,” Philip Letsou, spokesman for the Senate Republican National Committee, said in a statement. “[Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer has a choice: stand with open borders radical Ruben Gallego or support his incumbent Senator Kyrsten Sinema.”

Sinema, who has an $8 million war fund, has drawn the ire of Democrats after several major splits with the party, including its opposition to getting rid of the filibuster to pass more legislation with 50 votes in the Senate. But she also played a key role in negotiating the bipartisan legislation that became law over the past two years, including a gun control bill, a measure protecting same-sex couples and an investment in infrastructure.

Gallego made no secret of his intention to run for the Senate, becoming a vocal critic of Sinema and accusing her of wanting the Democrats to lose the election.

“I’ve been traveling across the state and across the country. Donating, fundraising and encouraging people to vote and I haven’t seen you anywhere @SenatorSinema,” he wrote on Twitter last fall, shortly after she appeared at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) looking on.

Strategists familiar with Gallego’s Senate campaign, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal strategy, say it will lean on his upbringing in poverty and his desire to help those in similar situations, in contrast to Sinema’s record in the Senate, where, they point out, his opposition helped to reduce a social safety net bill from $3.5 trillion. In the announcement video, Gallego also discusses struggling with PTSD after serving in the Navy and the struggles her single mother faced raising her children on a secretary’s salary.

Sinema declined to comment on Gallego’s offer when asked about it on a local radio show last Friday, saying Arizonans want a “break” from politics after the midterm cycle and that she is focusing on immigration and other issues. “I’m not really thinking or talking about the election right now, although others are. I’m focused on work,” she said.

Republicans are also eyeing a possible three-way race, a scenario that some conservative strategists think would make the race much easier for a Republican. win. Shortly after Gallego’s announcement, Republican Party groups began attacking him as too liberal for the state. Blake Masters, Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson — who unsuccessfully aspired to statewide office in 2022 — are considering running, the Washington Post previously reported.

Democrats viewed Sinema’s move to become independent as politically strategic after some polls suggested she could fight to defeat Gallego in the Democratic primary. As an Independent, his path to re-election it would be complicated and would depend on a coalition of moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats.

Gallego’s team decided to enter the race early to ensure he can increase his name recognition in Arizona, especially among the growing Hispanic community, according to a person familiar with his strategy. Gallego, who oversaw the campaign’s fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last cycle, criticized the Democrats’ belated outreach to the community and their adoption of language that doesn’t resonate with most Hispanic voters, such as the term “Latinx.” .

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