Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona announced Monday his bid for the U.S. Senate, where he will clash with the senator in 2024. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Independent.
The Phoenix-area congressman and retired Marine who served in Iraq released a video in which he speaks to a group of veterans about his decision to run.
“Besides my family, you’re the first people to hear this. I’m going to challenge Kyrsten Sinema in the U.S. Senate and I need your support,” Gallego, 43, said at a veterans’ home in Guadalupe, Arizona. Tell everyone in the military organization.
Sinema has been heavily criticized by Democrats for opposing elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Early last year, when the Arizona senator was still a Democrat, Gallego said some Democratic senators urged him to run for her seat. Sinema said in December that she was switching parties, though she continued to caucus with Senate Democrats and has not said publicly whether she will run for re-election.
“Most families think they’re a paycheck or two away from bankruptcy. That’s not how we’re supposed to live in this country,” Gallego said in his announcement video. “People with money and power, they don’t need more advocates. It’s people who are still trying to choose between groceries and utilities that need a champion.”
If elected, Gallego, who is of Colombian and Mexican descent, would become Arizona’s first Latino senator.In the announcement video, he speaks in English and Spanish about the hardships and economic instability his family faced growing up
Gallego said his mother, an immigrant, would “cry, like every night, stressed about how she was going to raise four kids without a father on a secretary’s salary.”
“Fue una experiencia muy dura,” Gallego added in Spanish, meaning: “It was a very difficult experience.”
Gallego was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2014. He is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and also chairs BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the 2022 cycle.
The Arizona Democrat described in his announcement video that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being deployed to Iraq in 2005.
“Losing all my friends, getting shot at all the time, people trying to blow you up all the time — you never really fully recover from the war. You’re not the same person,” Gallego said. “Battling PTSD, I’ve had some really low moments in my life. But I still haven’t given up. I’ve pushed forward. I’ve found a new way to continue serving.”
Some Republicans are considering running for Sinema’s seat. Defeating Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is considering a Senate bid, according to sources close to Lake.
Lake lost the Arizona gubernatorial race in November to Democrat Katie Hobbs by less than one point and didn’t throw in the towel until Sunday to falsely claim she had won the election. In December, an Arizona judge dismissed Lake’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the losing election, finding there was no clear or convincing evidence of wrongdoing. Lake, a serial election lie promoter who denies the results of the 2020 presidential election, has appealed the court’s ruling. Lake will not make a final decision on the Senate run until her court case is complete, sources told CNN.
Republican Blake Masters lost a challenge to the incumbent Democratic senator last November. Mark Kelly, who has a nearly 5-point lead, is also “strongly considering” a Senate run in 2024, according to a spokesman. Masters also denied the results of the 2020 election, but unlike Lake, Masters conceded his own campaign to Kelly.
Karin Taylor-Robson, who lost to Lake in last year’s Republican primary despite having the support of the state’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey at the time, also said she might be open to a Senate run.
“It’s horrible for Arizona that our senator has failed to put a check on the radical Biden agenda and continue to implement his disastrous policies,” the former Arizona board member told CNN in a statement news site. “While I am still deciding how best to serve the state I love, I agree with the many Arizonans who have reached out who, like me, want our party to nominate a strong, genuine Conservative, he won’t snatch defeat from victory’s mouth.”