“The rich and the powerful don’t need more advocates,” Gallego said in the video, which shows him addressing veterans at Guadalupe American Legion Post 124. “It’s the people who are still trying to choose between groceries and utilities that need to a fighter for them.”
Gallego also directly targeted Sinema in a statement, saying she had “left Arizona” and had “repeatedly broken her promises and fought for the interests of the big drug companies and Wall Street at our expense.”
The announcement comes just a month after Sinema surprised Washington Democrats by leaving the party and registering as an independent, calling the change a “reflection of who I’ve always been.” Sinema, a first-term moderate who has been in the middle of several bipartisan Senate deals over the past year, has not yet announced whether she will seek re-election.
Growing up poor, all I had was the American dream. It kept me going: like a kid sleeping on the floor, a college student scrubbing toilets, a Marine losing brothers in Iraq.
Today, too many Arizona residents see their dream slip away. I’m running for the US Senate to win it back for you! pic.twitter.com/ofUvUYRcTP
— Ruben Gallego (@Ruben Gallego) January 23, 2023
2024 Senate ticket is a GOP dream. But the strength of the candidates is uncertain.
Gallego, who has more than $1 million in cash on hand, is the first Democrat to announce his run in Arizona, becoming the early presumptive Democratic nominee, following another possible candidate, Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), announced last week he wouldn’t look for the office. Gallego’s campaign plans will focus heavily on mobilizing the state’s Latino and youth voice. The congressman would be the state’s first Latino senator if elected.
Gallego’s bid presents a dilemma for national Democrats, who must choose whether to commit their considerable resources to supporting a Democratic candidate for the seat or to support an independent incumbent that votes largely Democratic but does not is popular with many low voters at home. In previous races, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has supported independents consulting with Democrats. The 2024 map to retain the Senate majority is ruthless for Democrats, who are defending 23 seats, and a three-way race in the state that needs to win would add to their headaches.
“The Democratic Civil War is underway in Arizona,” Philip Letsou, a spokesman for the Senate National Republican Committee, said in a statement. “[Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer has a choice: stand with open-border radical Ruben Gallego or support his incumbent, Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
Sinema, who has an $8 million war chest, has drawn the wrath of Democrats after several high-profile splits with the party, including her opposition to getting rid of the filibuster to push more legislation by 50 votes in the Senate. But she also played a key role in negotiating bipartisan legislation that came into effect in the past two years, including a gun control law, a measure protecting same-sex married couples and an investment in infrastructure.
Gallego made no secret of his intention to run for the Senate a vocal critic of Sinema, accusing her of wanting the Democrats to lose the midterm elections.
“I have traveled all over the state and country. Donate, raise money and encourage people to come vote and I haven’t seen you anywhere @SenatorSinema,” he wrote on Twitter last fall, shortly after she appeared at the University of Louisville McConnell Center with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky . ) look up.
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 people in similar situations, in contrast to Sinema’s record in the Senate, where, they point out, her opposition helped lower a $100 social safety net bill 3.5 trillion. In the announcement video, Gallego also discusses his struggles with PTSD after serving in the Marines and the struggles his single mother endured raising her children on a secretary’s salary.
Sinema declined to comment on Gallego’s bid when asked on a local radio show last Friday, saying Arizona residents want a “break” from politics after the midterm cycle and that she is focusing on immigration and other issues. “I don’t really think or talk about the election right now, although others are. I stay focused on work,” she said.
Republicans are also eagerly awaiting a possible three-way race, a scenario that some conservative strategists believe would make the race much easier for a Republican. to win. Soon after Gallego’s announcement, GOP groups began attacking him as too liberal for the state. Blake Masters, Kari Lake and Karrin Taylor Robson — all unsuccessfully seeking statewide offices by 2022 — are considering runs, The Washington Post previously reported.
Democrats saw Sinema’s move to independence as politically strategic, after some polls suggested she could struggle to beat Gallego in a Democratic primary. As an independent, her path to re-election would be a tricky one and would rely on assembling a coalition of moderate Republicans, independents and Democrats.
Gallego’s team decided to jump in early to ensure he could increase his name identification in Arizona, especially among the growing Hispanic community, according to a person familiar with his strategy. Gallego, who oversaw the Congressional Hispanic Caucus fundraising campaign last cycle, was critical of the Democrats’ late outreach to the community and their language that doesn’t resonate with a majority of Hispanic voters, such as the term “Latinx ‘.