Gallego Makes Big Fundraising Campaign for Sinema AZ Senate Seat

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., prepares for a House Armed Services Committee award on the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at the Rayburn Building.

Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Senate campaign said Tuesday it raised more than $1 million in one day after the Democrat made his bid for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s coveted seat in the 2024 election cycle.

More than 27,000 donations contributed to the transportation, breaking an Arizona record for most donations in the first 24 hours of a campaign, according to a campaign press release.

The Gallego campaign said it broke that record, previously held by incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, in just eight hours.

“I’m proud to announce that on our first day, we received more donations from real people than Senator Sinema has had in the past three years combined,” Gallego said in the press release.

A spokeswoman for Sinema declined to comment, but referred to a recent radio interview in which the senator said she will “focus on the work I have ahead of me.”

“There’s still a lot of really important work to be done for Arizona,” Sinema said in that Friday interview.

The early windfall for Gallego’s Senate bid came as Sinema, who recently left the Democratic Party to become independent, has yet to announce if she will seek re-election in 2024.

Sinema and a handful of other centrist Democrats had enjoyed tremendous influence as the Senate was split 50-50 between the two parties, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casting the casting vote. They have repeatedly angered their Senate peers after refusing to support or force major changes in large parts of President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda and other key votes.

That Senate math changed after Democrats beat expectations in the November midterm election, extending their hold to an outright Senate majority of 51-49. When Sinema left the Democratic Party last month, she called the change “a reflection of who I’ve always been.”

But she also signaled that she will continue to vote with Democrats, a stance that has helped the President’s party pass legislation that helped make the 117th Congress one of the most productive in years.

By quitting the Democrats, Sinema will also avoid contesting a Democratic primary if she decides to run again — a prospect that could lead to a tripartite general election.

Despite the initial fundraising spike of his campaign, Gallego’s Senate nominee comes amid skepticism that a more progressive candidate can win statewide in Arizona, where both Republicans and “other” voters outnumber Democrats.

Some Democrats on Capitol Hill have taken a cautious approach when asked about the race.

“Senator Sinema is an excellent Member of Congress and Member of the Senate, and she has done many good things here, but it is far too early to make a decision,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told DN.Y. on Tuesday reporters.

Their predicament was welcome news for Republicans.

“Senator Sinema was an important part of the United States Senate, and the most important thing she did was save the institution itself by protecting the filibuster,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“I think it’s a big dilemma for the majority of Senate Democrats to decide whether to support them or someone who’s running on the Democratic ticket,” McConnell said.

Democrats face a difficult road to retaining their narrow Senate majority next year. Early projections from the election map show that Democrats and the independents who dispute with them are defending more Senate seats than Republicans. That includes Arizona, which the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics just called a “toss up.”


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