Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) compared his Senate run Friday to that of Sens. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) when asked if there was a trail for a progressive Candidates give Arizona.
“We have already taken this to court. That’s the same thing they said about Fetterman. That’s the same thing they said about Warnock,” Gallego told The Hill TV’s What America’s Thinking.
“I have the same voting record as [Sen.] Mark Kelly,” he continued, referring to his fellow Arizona native. “And by the way, in Arizona, no matter who you are, no matter who you are, left, right or center, as a Democrat, you’re always going to be ‘too liberal’ when Republicans attack you.”
Arizona has a history of electing statewide candidates who tend to be more moderate and break with their own party, including incumbent Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I) and late Senator John McCain (R).
“I think Arizona voters don’t care about those DC labels,” Gallego said. “They really only care about someone who understands them.”
The bipartisan Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics have classified the 2024 US Senate race as a “toss”.
Gallego announced on Monday that he is running for the Senate, raising the possibility of an incumbent versus incumbent challenge in the general election against Sinema. She announced late last year that she was leaving the Democratic Party to become independent, while still voting with Senate Democrats. Sinema has not yet announced whether she will stand for re-election in 2024.
However, Gallego was full steam ahead on his top chamber bid, raising a staggering $1 million in a day after the announcement. The Hill first reported Thursday that Gallego is stepping down from his job as head of Bold PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), to focus on his Senate campaign.
Gallego told HillTV that he has not been in contact with Sinema since announcing his campaign.
“No one really talks to Sen. Sinema, and that’s kind of the problem,” Gallego said. “Fact is, she hasn’t spoken to anyone in Arizona.”
Gallego is also entering the race with great success, having led Bold PAC during the 2022 election campaign – the organization has successfully defended all of its incumbents and added nine new members to the CHC, a record.
That experience took the five-year-old Arizona congressman into national campaign and fundraising organizations, giving him the kind of large-scale campaign experience he needed to run a successful Senate bid.
Democrats, particularly progressives, have viewed Sinema as an impediment to the passage of key Democratic priorities. She and Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) have been vocal in defending the filibuster, a rule that dictates that most legislation requires at least 60 votes to pass in the Senate.
However, some have raised concerns that a three-way battle between Sinema, Gallego and the eventual Republican nominee could sabotage Democrats’ efforts to hold the seat in 2024.
Gallego dismissed those concerns in the interview, predicting that if she runs, she’d come up with a “very, low, low third place.”
“There’s no concern for us because we understand polls and, more importantly, we understand Arizonans,” he said. “She is very unpopular with Democrats and independents. Her running is more likely to be pulled off Republicans because she is essentially outlawing many of the values that Arizona people hold dear.”