Senate Democratic leaders face a thorny path in Arizona’s Senate race, where Democrat Ruben Gallego could potentially square off against not only a Republican, but also Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I), a former member Democrat.
Some Arizona Democrats expect Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will support Gallego, even if behind the scenes, noting the animosity many in the party feel toward Sinema, especially after she switched to an independent last year, and her electoral prospects.
But other members of the party believe that calculus is not as simple and say Senate Democrats will need to proceed cautiously, given she still caucuses with the party in the upper chamber, where Democrats have a narrow majority.
“I 100 percent think it’s not clear because she’s an incumbent,” said one senior Democratic strategist. She caucuses in the Democratic party. She may not be a Democrat any more, but she caucuses with us. In that sense, it’s like there is an incumbent. In the sense that she has not indicated that she will stop caucusing with us, it is a problem. “
The Strategist referred to the 2006 Connecticut Senate Democratic Primary, where Sen. Joe Lieberman lost to Ned Lamont, a fellow Democrat. Liberman won the general election against Lamont. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee expressed its support for Lamont following his victory. Liberman won the general election against Lamont. NBC News reported last month that her team shared a prospectus outlining the possible shares of Republicans and Democrats that could form a coalition. According to a Federal Election Commission filing, the incumbent senator reported raising around $826,000 during the third quarter. Close to half of that amount included transfers. Sinema’s campaign reported earlier this month that he had raised over $3 million in the third quarter and ended the quarter with more than $5 million in the bank.
Gallego’s campaign said earlier this month that he had raised over $3 million in the third quarter and ended the quarter with over $5 million in the bank.
Meanwhile, polling has portended warning signs for Sinema. Gallego was ranked first in a survey by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling commissioned by the Gallego Campaign. A survey by the Republican firm National Research Inc. found that Lake was ranked first with 37 percent of support, followed by Gallego and Sinema. Democrats point out that she will also have to meet a signature requirement to be eligible for the ballot.
“Between that and the fundraising situation that’s out there, and a perceived lack of a ground game here, I think she’s got some strong headwinds, and I think that Schumer and Democratic leadership are certainly taking all of that into consideration as they figure out their next steps,” explained Matt Grodsky, former communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party and vice president at Matters of State Strategies.
“If she does get in, they’re gonna have to make calculated decisions on how that’s going to impact any legislation or deals they’re gonna have to negotiate with,” he said. “But, I’m sure that, even if they don’t do it publicly, they will privately support Ruben Gallego, as I’m not convinced that their constituents would be happy to see them take any other action. “
Democratic consultant Dawn Penich-Thacker said Arizona Democrats expect Senate leadership to line up behind Gallego if Sinema announces.
“There’s a realistic understanding of, you know, well, we don’t know if she’s in the race, so it’s fine. Penich-Thacker stated that they need to concentrate and do their work. If that were to happen, if she jumped in, yes, there would be a expectation that the Democratic Party, from the bottom to the top, would support the Democrat. “
Sinema’s campaign did no respond to requests for comments. John LaBombard is a former aide of Sinema. He said that there may be pressure on some Democratic Party members to support Gallego. However, he noted that the DSCC was an organization which protected incumbents. But until Sinema announces, Democrats will be in a holding pattern. “The party is waiting for Sinema to decide whether or not she will run while working aggressively on holding Kari Lake accountable,” said a national Democratic campaign aide.
Lake, who is the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP nomination, is facing Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb. It’s not clear yet what kind of role the Senate GOP campaign arm will play with Lake, though a source familiar with the Republican groups’ strategy confirmed to The Hill they hadn’t ruled out backing the former GOP gubernatorial in the race, which Politico first reported.
Lake, in her campaign launch speech in Scottsdale, Ariz., sought to appeal to the swing voters she lost last cycle, arguing “honest elections” were not a partisan issue, while at the same time criticizing the media and “the disaster of Election Day in Arizona.”
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Steve Daines (R-Mont. ), called Lake a “talented candidate with an impressive capacity to ignite the grassroots”, and stated that they had “productive discussions with Kari Lake’s team”. “
I think Arizona is a better opportunity to pick up votes than Pennsylvania for example, when you look at the state. “I think this is an area where Senate Republicans will want to invest their resources,” said a Republican Strategist who spoke candidly and requested anonymity. The GOP strategist stated that she met with Senate Republican Leadership and members of conference, including Senators. John Barrasso (R-Wyo. John Cornyn, Tom Cotton and John Barrasso (R-Wyo). The strategist also noted that she met with top McConnell advisers, McConnell’s super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund and the Senate Leadership Fund. Politico was the first to report these meetings. “I think Lake has demonstrated… that she is willing to work with Senate Republicans,” said the strategist. The person stated that she was willing to engage in leadership to build a strong relationship. But Democrats are sceptical that voters will accept a Lake rebrand. Grodsky said that she doesn’t believe she can convince the middle of the political spectrum that she is the best fit for the job this time and has learned from her mistakes in 2022.