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U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the first out bisexual in the chamber, switched from being a Democrat to an independent late last year, and that may hurt her if she decides to run for reelection in 2024.
Sinema hasn’t formally announced that she’ll seek reelection, but she has been raising campaign funds. However, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego has announced he’s running for the Senate seat, and he’s outraised Sinema among Democratic donors, Politico reports.
Sinema, who ran as a progressive, has disappointed many of her former supporters by being cozy with corporate interests and by resisting efforts to lift the filibuster, which stands as a block to much progressive legislation. So Gallego is running as a more liberal alternative.
So far, Gallego “has raised two-and-a-half times as much from Sinema’s 2018 major donors as Sinema herself has,” according to Politico. He has received $691,000 from those donors, with Sinema bringing in $277,000. Gallego has also outraised Sinema among those who donated to Arizona’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Mark Kelly, in his campaign last year.
Sinema hasn’t made up the difference with Republican or independent donors. She raised $4.6 million overall in the first nine months of 2023, and Gallego raised $10 million. “Though Sinema still has more than twice as much in the bank ($10.8 million) as Gallego, her fundraising is slowing, and much of that money was raised before she left the party,” Politico notes.
Sinema continues to caucus with the Democrats, so her seat is important to the party as it tries to hold its thin Senate majority. Some Democrats fear Gallego is too liberal to win statewide in Arizona. But if Sinema runs, Republicans fear she’ll grab independent and moderate votes from Kari Lake, who has announced her Senate candidacy as a GOPer. Lake is a far-right Republican and Donald Trump ally who ran for Arizona governor last year and still hasn’t conceded that she lost.