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'Democrat Civil War': Kyrsten Sinema Will Face Progressive Challenger Ruben Gallego For Senate Seat In 2024

Forbes 1/23/2023 Sara Dorn, Forbes Staff


Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) will run for Sen. Krysten Sinema (I)’s seat in 2024, he announced Monday, after Sinema defected from the party in December, a move that could cost Democrats the seat in a three-way general election race if Sinema runs for re-election.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images © Provided by Forbes Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Key Facts

Gallego narrowed in on Sinema while announcing his bid on Monday, telling NBC News in a statement “the problem isn’t that Senator Sinema abandoned the Democratic Party—it’s that she’s abandoned Arizona.”

Capitalizing on the Democratic vulnerability of Sinema’s seat, Gallego’s spokesperson called on Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to endorse Gallego, opposed to Sinema, telling NBC: “The Democrat civil war is on in Arizona.”

On the Republican side, sources told NBC three Trump-aligned Republicans are considering runs for the seat: failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb and Blake Masters, who lost to Sen. Mark Kelly (D) in a closely watched midterm contest.

While Sinema has yet to announce her plans for 2024, her participation in the race could aid a Republican candidate by splitting Democratic votes between her and the party’s nominee.

The four-term congressman—who spoke both English and Spanish in his announcement video, while recalling his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder after his military deployment to Iraq—would be Arizona’s first Latino senator.

Key Background

Sinema announced in December she would become an Independent after months of sparring with her home state’s Democratic party, which censured her last year after she voted against a change to Senate filibuster rules that essentially killed Democrat-backed legislation to expand voting access. She and moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) hold outsize power in the Senate, which is currently split 51-49 with Democrats in the majority, and have blocked key Democratic priorities, including President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better social spending package in 2021 and 2022.

Big Number

23. That’s the number of Democrat-held Senate seats that will be on the ballot in 2024, of 34 total–a map that threatens Democrats’ majority in the Senate next election cycle. None of the Republican-held seats up for re-election are in states won by Biden, but Democrats are on the ballot in three states former President Donald Trump won in 2020 (Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Joe Manchin) and five others that Biden won by five points or less. All of the GOP senators up for re-election in 2024 represent states that voted for Trump. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is already waging a digital ad campaign against the three vulnerable Democratic senators under the slogan “retire or get fired.”


Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced her retirement earlier this month after a quarter-century in Congress, presenting an opportunity for Republicans to claim the seat in a swing-state Biden won by less than five points in 2020.

Further Reading

Sinema Facing Senate Challenge By Progressive Democrat Gallego After Leaving Party (Forbes)

Rep. Katie Porter Will Run For California Senate Seat—As Questions Loom Over Feinstein’s Future (Forbes)

Arizona Sen. Sinema Leaving Democratic Party, Becoming An Independent (Forbes)

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