(TheRedWire.com) – Senate Democrats narrowly escaped losing the upper chamber during the 2022 midterm elections. They even increased their majority over Republicans 51 to 49. Most pundits believed the Senate was unlikely to flip. Still, 2024 could be a very different cycle for the Left. Immediately after the election, Democrats were staring down a barrel as they will need to defend 23 seats versus the GOP’s 10 in that election.
Things may have just gotten a bit easier for Republicans. On Friday, December 9, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) announced she was leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent. Over the last two years, she opposed some of the Democrats’ agenda, including raising taxes on corporations, ending the filibuster, and other provisions in the failed Build Back Better proposal. Before the move, many believed Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) intended to run against the incumbent Senator in a primary. Now, he’s hoping to replace her as the Democrat’s choice for US Senator.
Gallego Announces Run For Senator
After Sinema made her announcement, Gallego started sounding like a possible candidate to replace her on the Democratic ticket. He accused the Senator of putting her interests, as well as those of pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street, ahead of her constituents.
On Thursday evening, before Sinema’s big reveal, rumors of the impending announcement swirled. Gallego was in Ukraine as part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing for more US aid to the war-torn country. He later told Newsweek that her decision wasn’t a surprise.
Publicly and privately, the congressman has telegraphed his intention to run for the seat with or without Sinema in the way. He recently hired the Democratic polling firm GBAO Strategies in a campaign leadership role. In 2022, the firm worked on campaigns for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Sen-Elect John Fetterman (D-PA). A source close to the Representative said it would be shocking if Gallego didn’t run and expected an announcement in early January. Another source stated he was preparing to hire other consultants who worked on other Senate campaigns.
Could a Three-Way Split Help a GOP Senate Candidate?
Arizona has become an increasingly tight battleground state. In the 2022 elections, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs (D) defeated GOP candidate Kari Lake (R) 50.3% to 49.7%. In US House races, Republicans won six of nine seats. In the Senate, incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) defeated challenger Blake Masters (R-AZ) 51.4% to 46.5%, and a Libertarian Party candidate garnered 2.1% of the vote.
In 2024, turnout will likely be higher because it’s a presidential election year. If there is a three-way race involving Gallego, Sinema (as an Independent), and a Republican, it could make things interesting. In that scenario, some believe she could win re-election. Still, the bigger concern among Democrats is that she could split the Democratic vote and tilt the seat to the Republican candidate.
The situation may become more apparent as we approach the fall of 2023.
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