WASHINGTON – Left-wing Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego announced Monday he will challenge newly independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in 2024 — setting up an intriguing three-way contest in a presidential election year.
Gallego’s announcement comes on the heels of Sinema’s revelation last month that she had left the Democratic party, re-registering as an Independent.
“Most families feel that they are one or two paychecks away from going under – that is not the way that we should be living in this country,” Gallego, 43, said in a campaign announcement video posted to Twitter Monday.
“The rich and the powerful, they don’t need more advocates. It’s the people that are still trying to decide between groceries and utilities that needs a fighter for them,” he added.
Though Sinema, 46, is no longer a Democrat, she still caucuses with the party’s members in the Senate. However, she has earned praise from Republicans — and ire from Democrats — for her commitment to keep the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster in place, blunting much of President Biden’s agenda.
While Sinema has not yet formally announced her re-election run, she filed paperwork last month to run as an independent in 2024.
In his announcement video, Gallego — a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — speaks of being raised in poverty by a single mother, attending Harvard as a first-generation college student, serving in Iraq with the Marine Corps and fighting through “very low moments” in his life.
“You never fully come back from war – you’re not the same person,” the Senate hopeful said. “Fighting through PTSD, there were some very low moments in my life. But I still didn’t give up hope and pushed forward. I found a new way to keep serving.”
Gallego also seemed to throw shade at Sinema following her trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, saying that “if you’re more likely to be meeting with the powerful than the powerless, you’re doing this job incorrect.”
“I’m sorry that politicians have let you down, but I’m gonna change that,” Gallego said to Arizonans in the video. “… because you deserve somebody fighting for you and fighting every day to make sure you have the same chance at el sueño Americano [the American dream.]”
Potential candidates in the Republican primary include failed 2022 Senate candidates Blake Masters and Jim Lamon, failed gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robinson, and Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb.