Gallego predicts he’ll win ‘90% of the Democratic vote’ in three-way Arizona Senate race

Phoenix-area Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) began a town hall last week with a quick warning to the crowd of about 150 attendees gathered inside the Rio Vista Recreation Center.

PEORIA, Arizona — Phoenix-area Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) began a town hall last week with a quick warning to the crowd of about 150 attendees gathered inside the Rio Vista Recreation Center.

“If you see me quickly answer my phone or run out, there’s only one tone right now that will ring, and that’s my wife,” Gallego said to laughs, explaining that his wife, Sydney, is expected to go into labor any day now with their first child. “That is the only reason why you will ever see me run out. I’m not like politicians who run away from constituents.”


The 43-year-old five-term congressman is gearing up for what could be an unpredictable three-way race in a battleground state in 2024 that poses a threat to newly independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-AZ) hold on the seat. Since announcing his candidacy earlier this year, he’s hitting the ground running in an attempt to prove he has a path to victory in a state where registered Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans and independents. Gallego continues to emphasize accessibility through his in-person public events as a strategy that could win over Arizona voters, a subtle dig at Sinema, who hasn’t held a similar event in years.

“We’re going across the state, and we’re going to red areas, and we’re going to really blue areas. We are going to areas where people feel like they’ve been forgotten,” Gallego said to the crowd.

Gallego is attempting to consolidate Democratic support behind his 2024 run and keep the party’s voters in his corner.

“We’re going to get like 90% of the Democratic vote. And again, because we are willing to do this,” Gallego said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, alluding to his town hall. “We’re willing to do this with not just Democrats, but with independents. We will go to Republican areas and talk to Republicans. This is how you win.”

The event, put together by Democrats in the area, drew a mostly friendly crowd of voters who had already decided to support Gallego’s candidacy. The Democratic Senate candidate did not face any heckling that many have experienced in battleground states in the past. Many of the attendees expressed their disappointment with Sinema in her first term.

“We feel betrayed by her. She sold her soul to big money and I’m very disappointed because I was enthusiastic about her initially,” said Gabrielle Lawrencel, a registered voter from Scottsdale, Arizona, who noted she phone-banked and canvassed for her in 2018. “I know of a few Dems that still really like Sinema, but mostly everyone I know is very disappointed with her.”

Melinda Kubak, a registered Democrat from Sun City West, Arizona, admitted she was nervous about the possibility of the Democratic vote being split between Sinema and Gallego.

“I’m definitely concerned about that — we could still be in trouble and we need a majority,” Kubak said, who has already decided she’s supporting Gallego.

The Arizona Democratic Party voted to censure Sinema in January 2022 over her opposition to changing the filibuster. By opposing the change, Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) prevented Senate Democrats from advancing major voting rights legislation. Voters like Kubak said Democrats in the state will not forget that.

“She turned her back on us. It’s not OK,” Kubak said.

Gallego, a Marine combat veteran who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, believes his military background will resonate with voters. Gallego, who is running to be Arizona’s first Latino senator, believes his background could win over a significant chunk of the independent vote, including many Latinos. His advisers also believe the congressman could benefit from the high turnout that comes with a presidential election, which in turn could hurt Sinema, who would be running as an independent.

“Much of the spending, the get-out-the-vote effort, etc., that’s all usually done on a party-ticket basis,” Roy Herrera, a prominent Arizona election attorney who supports Gallego, said. “If you’re Sinema, you’re not on either ticket. You’re not endorsing Biden. You’re not endorsing Trump. They’re not endorsing you.”

“For Sinema to win, she’d have to get a big chunk of Republicans theoretically. With Trump historically getting over 90% of the Republican vote in Arizona, what I struggle with is thinking about who is going to be the Trump-Sinema voter, because there has to be those people in order for her to win,” Herrera said.

Gallego is attempting to draw a contrast to Sinema, who has not revealed whether she will run for reelection or step aside, although she has filed preliminary paperwork to seek another term.

During the town hall, Gallego took several swipes at the first-term senator over her ties to corporate interests, pointing to reports that Sinema joined a group of House Democratic centrists and forced a compromise on a more narrow provision of the Inflation Reduction Act. The version of the law that was ultimately passed allows Medicare to negotiate the cost of 10 drugs in 2026, such as lowering the maximum cost of insulin co-pays from a proposed $50 monthly to the $35 limit now.

Many Democrats were pushing for the federal government to have broader powers to negotiate prices with the industry and to do so earlier. Gallego said Sinema prevented the government from negotiating on a wider scale.

“Kyrsten Sinema, this is one of the things that I think is just unforgivable. Instead of negotiating for you, for our senior citizens, she negotiated for pharma. It’s very widely known in D.C. circles that we could have had a stronger opportunity to negotiate these prices sooner, and with more drugs, if it wasn’t for her,” he said.

While most high-profile Democrats have stayed out of the Arizona race for now, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will headline a campaign fundraiser virtually for Gallego later this week. Pelosi has not endorsed Gallego and often does not weigh in on primary election races. The only other race Pelosi has been involved in so far is the California race, when she endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

John LaBombard, a former Sinema aide, said it’s difficult for him to envision an “unapologetic progressive firebrand” winning statewide in Arizona.

“That’s a profile that has not won, to my knowledge, statewide in Arizona ever in recent memory,” LaBombard said. “I think Democrats, whether they love or hate Kyrsten Sinema, recognize that she knows how to win a pivotal swing state in an absolutely brutal Senate cycle for the national Democratic Party across the map.”

“Ruben Gallego has never been tested. He’s never increased his voter share in the relatively safe blue districts he represents. He’s never won or run statewide in Arizona. And again, he has a profile as a progressive partisan that has never won in recent memory and statewide in Arizona,” LaBombard said.

The race for Sinema’s seat is in the early stages, but it could be historic for having three high-profile candidates and could ultimately determine control of the Senate. In April, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb became the first Republican to step forward to challenge Sinema. Republican Kari Lake, who narrowly lost the race for Arizona governor to Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) last year, is perhaps the favorite to win the GOP nomination and is considering a run.

“We’re going to win this race whether Kyrsten is in or if Kari Lake is in. It’s not because of Kyrsten, and it’s not because of Kari. It’s because we’re the only people actually having these conversations,” he said during his 90-minute town hall.

Gallego said he’s working to appeal to a group of Republicans who ultimately won’t be able to vote for a hard-line conservative candidate such as Kari Lake.


“I think there are a lot of Republicans that care about democracy and care about the rule of law. I think she’s going to be talking the whole time about the thing that’s quite opposite of what they want,” he said. “We’re going to talk about her very irresponsible views, for example on Ukraine and on the military.”
“I think we’re going to be able to lean in on my experience in that regard, and I think I can get a lot of that crossover support,” Gallego said.

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