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Ruben Gallego Is Expected to Announce His Senate Run This Week

The only question about the expected Senate bid of Rep. Ruben Gallego (actually D-AZ) was when he would announce it. Politico is reporting that it will be this week, maybe even today. Update: Yup, at 8 a.m. he officially announced his run. Here is his announcement video. It is very powerful. It was not exactly a secret that Gallego was going to run. He's been champing at the bit for at least a year.

Perhaps even bigger news is that Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ), the former mayor of Phoenix, has decided not to run for the Senate. This makes Gallego the overwhelming favorite to get the Democratic nomination. It also means that Gallego can start his general-election campaign this week and not have to spend months in a bitter primary with Stanton. Conceivably, some other Arizona Democrat could challenge Gallego, but we doubt any high-profile one will do so. Gallego has too much going for him, including being a Latino (in a state full of Latinos), a Marine Corps combat veteran (in a state full of veterans), and a Harvard graduate (which will play well with college-educated suburban voters). He also progressive enough that he is unlikely to get a challenger from the Bernie wing of the Democratic Party. In addition, he already has a national profile and will rake in the cash from Democrats all over the country who see him as the way to get rid of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). We would be hugely surprised if he pulled in less than $50 million, with $100 million being very realistic, nearly all of it from out of state.

In case you happen to know that the current mayor of Phoenix is Kate Gallego, you might be wondering if Gallego just happens to be a really common name in Arizona. It's not. Ruben and Kate met at Harvard in 2001 and moved to Phoenix in 2004. They got married in 2010 and were quite the Arizona power couple for a while. They announced their divorce in 2016—when Kate was pregnant with their first and only child. They have never explained why they got divorced or who initiated it. Could this come up in a Senate campaign? It could.

Two key questions that are looming above everything are:

  1. Will Sinema run for reelection as an independent?
  2. What will the DSCC do if Sinema runs?

Only Sinema knows the answer to #1 and she's not talking. From where we stand, her chances of being reelected as an independent are pretty close to zero. Most Democrats will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is. Very few will vote for her. Some true independents will vote for her, but most independents lean one way or the other and aren't really on the fence. Most Republicans will vote for the Republican nominee unless the GOP puts up an awful candidate, and even then most will vote for an awful Republican over a former Democrat. Even actually formally switching to the other party doesn't usually help turncoats (see: Specter, Arlen). Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has said he will support her, but he can't vote in Arizona and his influence there is probably not very great. So if Sinema runs, it would most likely be as a spoiler to stick it to the Democrats for giving her a hard time for the past 2 years. She can probably get enough funding from Republican donors to wage a viable campaign. What would be the point of that? We hear that Fox pays pretty well.

As to #2, it will put Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) on the spot. Peters ran the DSCC in 2022 and not only did he protect every incumbent, but he also picked up the open seat in Pennsylvania. The Democrats love him to pieces and pleaded with him to stay on for another cycle, and he agreed. The main job of the DSCC is to protect all the incumbents. This means not trying to defeat an incumbent, even an independent. In Vermont and Maine, the DSCC won't spend a penny to help the actual Democratic nominee, preferring the incumbent independents (Bernie Sanders, VT, and Angus King, ME) who caucus with the Democrats. If Sinema runs for reelection, will Peters spend money to help someone (Sinema) who has been such a thorn in Joe Biden's side against a challenger (i.e., Gallego) who has said over and over that he strongly supports Biden and will be a vote for pretty much anything Biden wants? Tough call. We're pretty sure Peters would prefer that Sinema resign from the Senate today to start working for Fox, but that his second choice would be for her to retire in Jan. 2025 and start over at Fox then. But it is not his call.

Another big factor is who the Republicans nominate. Arizona is now a certified purple state. The governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and the other senator are all Democrats. If the Republicans nominate yet another whackadoodle candidate, Gallego has a decent chance of winning, because some of the normal (i.e., non-Trumpy) Republican voters will vote for Sinema if she runs, or even for Gallego himself. In other words, depending on the Republican nominee, Sinema could pull votes from both parties. The Republican best positioned to win the general election is former governor Doug Ducey. But he may not be interested because he may have to enter a primary against Kari Lake, Blake Masters, or both. In such a primary, Trump would oppose Ducey, even if the former president said that either Lake or Masters is fine and he has no preference between them. So the next shoe to drop may well be the decisions of Lake and Masters. Until that happens, everything is very unsettled. (V)

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