Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) announced Monday he is launching a bid for the Senate seat currently held by Arizona Independent Kyrsten Sinema.
Sinema, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018 as a Democrat, announced after the 2022 midterms—when the Democrats held onto their slim 51-49 majority—that she was changing her party affiliation to Independent.
Sinema has “repeatedly broken her promises and fought for the interests of big pharma and Wall Street at our expense,” Gallego said in a video announcement. “I’m running for the U.S. Senate because the rich and the powerful don’t need any more advocates in Washington—but families who can’t afford groceries do.”
Sinema has been a thorn in the side of liberal Democrats for some time. They see her and Rep. Joe Manchin (D-WV) as obstacles against getting legislation such as last year’s Voting Rights reforms to the Senate floor because the pair have sided with Republicans against filibuster rules changes. They’ve refused to allow an “up or down” vote in which only a 51-vote majority would be needed.
The filibuster mandates a two-thirds majority vote, giving the minority party in the Senate a great deal of leverage over any proposed legislation. This past week at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Sinema and Manchin shared a “high five” over their support for the filibuster.
Gallego said in December some Senators and Representatives had privately urged him to run against Sinema.
A former Marine first elected to Congress in 2014, Gallego won reelection in the 2022 midterms to represent Arizona’s 3rd Congressional district, which includes parts of Phoenix and Glendale, with 77% of the vote.
Formerly a red state famously the home of the late Sen. John McCain (R), Arizona has been leaning more purple in recent elections. Along with Sinema, the state’s other U.S. Senator is former Shuttle Astronaut Mark Kelly (D), who also won reelection in 2022.
Arizonans also voted in 2022 for a Democrat for Governor: Katie Hobbs, who defeated Trump-endorsed former TV anchor Kari Lake.