Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) says that he’s been approached by fellow Democrats about mounting a primary challenge to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in 2024.
“To be honest, I have gotten a lot of encouragement from elected officials, from senators, from unions, from your traditional Democratic groups, big donors,” Gallego told CNN. “Everything you can imagine under the sun.”
Gallego declined to say whom he’s spoken to about a potential Senate run, though he noted that “it wasn’t” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the progressive firebrand who said recently that he’s open to supporting a primary challenge to Sinema.
Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have irked fellow Democrats in recent months as they’ve stymied the party’s efforts to advance key parts of President Biden’s agenda.
On Wednesday, Manchin and Sinema joined their GOP colleagues in opposing altering Senate rules to change the legislative filibuster, allowing Republicans to block a sweeping voting rights bill.
Even before that, however, Sinema and Manchin found themselves at odds with many in their party over the price tag of a roughly $3.5 trillion social spending and climate change package.
That’s all reignited talk of a potential 2024 primary challenge and Gallego’s name has been floated. One campaign, Run Ruben Run, has set its sights specifically on recruiting Gallego into the race. Another group, Primary Sinema PAC, is raising money to fund grassroots groups in Arizona that could lay the groundwork for a potential primary campaign.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, Gallego insisted that Sinema is “vulnerable because nobody in the state has seen hide nor hair of her for the last three years.”
“She hasn’t had one town hall; everything she does is scripted,” Gallego said. “She says she refuses to negotiate in public, but we want to know who is she negotiating for? Is it for Arizonans? Or is it for the pharmaceutical companies or whatever other interests that she is more likely to have meetings with than it is with the actual constituents?”
While Gallego has garnered attention from national Democrats interested in challenging Sinema in 2024, there’s some doubt among Arizona Democrats, who say that Gallego is far from decided on a Senate run and even question whether he can win statewide, given Arizona’s purple tint and the fact that Democrats only recently started winning there.