Rep. Gallego announces bid for Cinema’s seat in the Arizona Senate

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, a liberal thug and prominent Latino legislator, announced on Monday that he will challenge independent U.S. Senator Kirsten Sinema in 2024, becoming the first candidate to enter the race and creating a potential three-way contest. .

Gallego said he would fight for normal people who were trying to make ends meet and were losing faith in politicians. He said he and Sinema are both “from modest to poor means” but went their separate ways in Congress.

“I’m a better fit for this job than Kirsten Cinema because I haven’t forgotten where I’m from,” Gallego told The Associated Press. “I think she clearly forgot where she came from. Instead of meeting people who need help, she meets people who are already strong.”

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

While no Republicans 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 associated with former President Donald Trump. Karrin Taylor Robson, the housing developer who lost to Lake in last year’s primary, and former Gov. Doug Ducey are also possible contenders.

The tripartite race, combined with the risk of Sinema and the eventual Democratic nominee splitting the vote, will make the party’s already uphill battle to retain control of the Senate in 2024 more difficult. Democrats will be forced to defend 23 seats, including Sinema and two others held by independents, compared to 10 for Republicans.

With tough and costly races on the horizon, it remains unclear how firmly the Democratic establishment and major donors will line up against Cinema, which voted for most of the Democrats’ laws, even as it stood in the way of the White House’s top priorities, Congress. leaders and progressive movement.

“My guess is they’ll be with us because we’re going to have a winning campaign, and because at the end of the day, if you look at where the Arizonas are, they’ll be with us and not with her,” Gallego told AP.

Sinema spokesperson Hannah Hurley declined to comment on Gallego’s statement.

Gallego, a sharp social media presence who quickly wins bipartisan rivals, floated the idea last year to challenge Sinema to raise money and has been publicly assembling a team of advisers for weeks, hiring Democratic campaign veterans with experience driving tough swinger Senate elections. states in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

He announced his campaign through an online video of him talking to veterans at an American Legion post in Guadeloupe, a Hispanic and First Nations community near Phoenix. He said his journey from humble roots to attending Harvard University motivates him to fight to keep the American Dream alive, first in the military and now in politics.

The son of Mexican and Colombian immigrants, Gallego grew up in Chicago with a single mother after his father was jailed for drug dealing. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps while on vacation at Harvard, where he was battling culture shock. In the 2021 book They Called Us Happy, he wrote that he was asked to leave in his sophomore year when he was having too much fun, his grades dropped, and he broke unspecified rules. He was later allowed to return.

He fought in Iraq in 2005 with a unit that suffered heavy casualties, including the death of his best friend, and has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder since his return. He moved to Arizona to join his Harvard girlfriend, who became 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 Cinema also served for one of his two terms. In 2014, he won a fierce congressional primaries, toppling a dynastic figure in Phoenix’s Hispanic community. He is giving up a secure Democratic seat in Congress, a district that includes the black and Hispanic neighborhoods of south and west Phoenix.

In Congress, he focused on veterans and military issues.

Sinema modeled its political approach on the individual style of the late Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who alienated the rank and file of his party by sometimes crossing the aisle to work with the Democrats. She became a strong advocate of bipartisan compromise in an era when extreme partisanship made it much more difficult.

She has been at the center of many of the biggest congressional deals during the Biden presidency, from a massive bipartisan infrastructure package to a landmark same-sex marriage legal protection bill. But she has also distanced herself from many Democrats, who accuse her of voting to abandon progressive priorities like raising the minimum wage and easing others like Biden’s massive social spending initiatives. She single-handedly thwarted the longtime Democrats’ goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors.

Her support for keeping piracy, a Senate rule requiring 60 out of 100 votes to pass most laws, has made her a pariah among Democrats who need Republican support to pass most bills despite controlling most seats. Tensions came to a head in 2021 when Democrats tried to pass a voting rights bill but failed.

Cinema doubled down on its stance last week, telling the global elite in Davos, Switzerland that democracy did not collapse in the 2022 elections despite its filibuster support.

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