Rep. Gallego announces bid for Sinema’s Arizona Senate seat

Jan 22, 2023, 3:06 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2023, 9:41 am
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is seen in the U.S. Capitol, July 14, 2022, in Washington.  Gallego sa...

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is seen in the U.S. Capitol, July 14, 2022, in Washington. Gallego says he’ll challenge independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in 2024. Monday's announcement makes Gallego the first candidate to jump into the race in the battleground state and sets up a potential three-way contest. No Republican has currently announced a run. (Tom Williams/Pool photo via AP, File)

(Tom Williams/Pool photo via AP, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, a liberal firebrand and prominent Latino lawmaker, announced Monday he’ll challenge independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2024, becoming the first candidate to jump into the race and setting up a potential three-way contest.

Gallego said he’d fight for normal people struggling to make ends meet and losing faith in politicians. He said he and Sinema both come from “modest to poor means” but have taken different paths in Congress.

“I’m better for this job than Kyrsten Sinema because I haven’t forgotten where I came from,” Gallego told The Associated Press. “I think she clearly has forgotten where she came from. Instead of meeting with the people that need help, she meets with the people that are already powerful.”

Gallego, a 43-year-old military veteran first elected to Congress in 2014, had made no secret of his interest in challenging Sinema, a longtime rival in Arizona politics who has been a roadblock and irritant to Democrats during Joe Biden’s presidency. She left the Democratic Party in December, registering as an independent and saying she doesn’t “fit well into a traditional party system.” She has not said whether she plans to run for a second term.

Although no Republican has entered the race, potential contenders include former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, former U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb — all of whom are closely aligned with former President Donald Trump. Karrin Taylor Robson, a housing developer who lost to Lake in last year’s primary, and former Gov. Doug Ducey are also possible contenders.

A three-way race, coupled with the risk that Sinema and the eventual Democratic nominee will split the vote, would complicate the party’s already uphill battle to maintain control of the Senate in 2024. Democrats will be forced to defend 23 seats, including Sinema’s and two others held by independents, compared with just 10 seats for Republicans.

With tough and expensive races on the horizon, it remains unclear just how firmly the Democratic establishment and major donors will line up against Sinema, who has voted for most Democratic legislation even as she’s stood in the way of major priorities for the White House, congressional leaders and the progressive movement.

“I’m assuming that they will be with us because we are going to run the winning campaign, and because at the end of the day, if you look at where Arizonans are going to be, they’re going to be with us and not with her,” Gallego told the AP.

A spokesperson for Sinema, Hannah Hurley, declined to comment on Gallego’s announcement.

Gallego, an acerbic presence on social media who is quick to take down rivals from both parties, floated the idea of challenging Sinema to raise money last year and has for weeks been publicly assembling a team of advisers, hiring Democratic campaign veterans with experience working on tough swing-state Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

He announced his campaign with an online video that shows him talking to veterans at an American Legion post in Guadalupe, a Latino and Indigenous community just outside Phoenix. He said his path from humble roots, beating the odds by getting accepted to Harvard University, motivates him to fight to preserve the American dream, first in the military and now in politics.

The son of immigrants from Mexico and Colombia, Gallego was raised in Chicago by a single mother, after his father was imprisoned for dealing drugs. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Reserves while he was on a break from Harvard, where he struggled with culture shock. He wrote in a 2021 book, “They Called Us Lucky,” that he was asked to leave during his sophomore year, when he partied too much, his grades slipped and he broke unspecified rules. He was later allowed to return.

He fought in Iraq in 2005 in a unit that sustained heavy casualties, including the death of his best friend, and he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning. He moved to Arizona to join his Harvard girlfriend, who had become active in Democratic politics in the state. The couple married in 2010 and divorced in 2017, a month before their son was born. His ex-wife, Kate Gallego, is now the mayor of Phoenix.

Gallego was elected in 2010 to the state Legislature, where Sinema also served for one of his two terms. In 2014, he won a bitter congressional primary, toppling a dynastic figure in the Phoenix Latino community. He’s giving up a safe Democratic seat in Congress, a district that includes the Black and Latino neighborhoods of south and west Phoenix.

In Congress, he has focused on veterans and military issues.

Sinema has modeled her political approach on the maverick style of the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who alienated the grassroots of his party by sometimes crossing the aisle to work with Democrats. She’s become a fierce advocate of bipartisan compromise in an era when extreme partisanship has made it much more difficult.

She has been at the center of many of the biggest congressional deals of Biden’s presidency, from a big, bipartisan infrastructure package to a landmark bill to legally protect same-sex marriages. But she’s also become estranged from many Democrats, who blame her for voting down progressive priorities like a minimum wage hike and watering down others, like Biden’s big social spending initiatives. She single-handedly thwarted Democrats’ longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors.

Her support for maintaining the filibuster, a Senate rule requiring 60 of 100 votes to pass most legislation, has made her a pariah among Democrats, who need Republican support to pass most bills despite controlling a majority of seats. The tension reached a head in 2021, when Democrats tried and failed to pass voting rights legislation.

Sinema doubled down on her position last week, telling global elites in Davos, Switzerland, that democracy didn’t collapse in the 2022 election despite her support for the filibuster.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Se...
Associated Press

Boeing to be arraigned in court over two Max jet crashes

Boeing representatives and relatives of some of the passengers killed in two crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets will meet face-to-face in a Texas courtroom Thursday, where the aerospace giant will be arraigned on a criminal charge that it thought it had settled two years ago.
11 hours ago
abortion Capital gains tax Olympia meeting legislature abortion...
Associated Press

Washington lawmakers hear testimony on 7 abortion bills

Abortion rights proposals have been front and center in Olympia, Washington, this week as state lawmakers heard hours of public testimony on seven proposals that would reinforce abortion access.
11 hours ago
FILE - The sun dial near the Legislative Building is shown under cloudy skies, March 10, 2022, at t...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Justices weigh effort to balance Washington state’s tax code

SEATTLE (AP) — An effort to balance what is considered the nation’s most regressive state tax code comes before the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday, in a case that could overturn a prohibition on income taxes that dates to the 1930s. Washington is one of nine states without an income tax, and its heavy reliance […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Attendees at BookExpo America visit the HarperCollins Publishers booth in New York on May 28...
Associated Press

HarperCollins, striking workers agree to federal mediation

NEW YORK (AP) — HarperCollins Publishers and the union representing some 250 striking employees have agreed to enter into federal mediation, the first sign of a possible settlement since the work stoppage began in early November. “We are excited to have this opportunity to continue bargaining with HarperCollins and hope they finally are ready to […]
1 day ago
FILE - A man walks past boxes that were moved out of the Eisenhower Executive Office building, just...
Associated Press

Former U.S. leaders asked to re-check for classified docs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives has asked former U.S. presidents and vice presidents to re-check their personal records for any classified documents following the news that President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence had such documents in their possession, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday. The Archives sent a letter […]
1 day ago
FILE - CBD wax is displayed at a shop in Sunset Hills, Mo., on June 27, 2019. The Food and Drug Adm...
Associated Press

FDA declines to regulate CBD; calls on Congress for fix

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there are too many unknowns about CBD products to regulate them as foods or supplements under the agency’s current structure and called on Congress to create new rules for the massive and growing market. The marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures and foods, while their […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Rep. Gallego announces bid for Sinema’s Arizona Senate seat