Arizona Democratic Senate nominee Ruben Gallego, who is trying to unseat Senator Kyrsten Sinema, says “nobody” in the state “has actually spoken to her” that she has joined the upper chamber
During an appearance on CNN’s This Morning, Gallego — a congressman who has represented a Phoenix-anchored district since 2015 — told co-host Don Lemon that Sinema “isn’t popular with anyone anymore.”
“No one in Arizona has actually spoken to her in the last four years. That’s why she’s where she is,” he said, arguing that she couldn’t have won a Democratic Party primary. “She doesn’t really have anything unwritten. We rarely see them in Arizona. She cut everyone off unless you’re a big spender.”
“What matters is that she no longer speaks to Arizonans. She doesn’t actually talk to them,” he added.
Gallego launched his candidacy Monday ahead of the 2024 Democratic primary and general election in Arizona — where he hopes to lead the party to victory in the critical swing state.
The caveat: Sinema served three terms as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives and was elected to the Senate seat as a Democratic nominee at the 2018 midterms, but became an independent last December.
At the time, Democrats were immediately concerned that Sinema might jeopardize the precarious 51-49 majority they had secured after the 2022 midterm elections, but she assured her voting patterns would not change, pointing to her longstanding independence as a legislator.
“The national political parties have marginalized our politics further than I have ever seen. I want to remove some of that poison from our politics,” she said during a CNN interview last month while explaining her decision to become an Independent. “I want to come back to actually just work on the issues and work together to try and solve those challenges.”
Since the announcement, Sinema has continued to vote with Senate Democrats, but her move still puts the party in trouble.
Sinema has yet to announce her plans to seek re-election, but if she runs for a second term, party leaders would face the dilemma of supporting her or going with Gallego – who would be the choice of many grassroots Democrats, especially under its progressive wing.
In such a contest, Gallego and Sinema would be pitted against a Republican candidate — resulting in an unpredictable three-way race. Potential GOP nominees for the 2024 Senate election include Kari Lake, the party’s gubernatorial nominee last fall, as well as 2022 Senate nominees Blake Masters and 2022 gubernatorial nominees Karrin Taylor Robson.
Sinema didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.