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Arizona’s 2024 Senate election already promises to be one of the most entertaining of the cycle. Progressive Democrat Ruben Gallego has already announced he will seek his party’s nomination and will face off directly against independent Kyrsten Sinema and the eventual Republican nominee. Already, the possible split in the Democratic vote favors the GOP nominee’s chances.
Sinema announced she was leaving the Democratic Party on Dec. 9, saying she was leaving a party where she had never fit in. “Everyday Americans are increasingly left behind by national parties’ rigid partisanship, which has hardened in recent years,” she said in a statement.
“Pressures in both parties pull leaders to the edges, allowing the loudest, most extreme voices to determine their respective parties’ priorities and expecting the rest of us to fall in line,” she added, committed to honoring her affiliation as an independent.
On the eve of the 2024 election, the change had a strong impact on her positive image among both Democrats and Republicans. According to Morning Consult, since she announced her affiliation as an independent, her disapproval among Democrats rose 18 percentage points. In turn, during the same period, her approval rating soared among independents (from 29% to 42%) and Republicans (from 38% to 43%).
Although she has not yet announced whether or not she will seek re-election, she will have to rely primarily on moderate Democrats and independents to get 6 more years in the Upper House.
A challenge on the left, Rubén Gallego
Sooner or later it was bound to happen. Sinema’s popularity among Democrats could not be lower and progressives are eager to take her seat away from her. Sure enough, the challenge came from the left in the form of Ruben Gallego. An Elizabeth Warren-style progressive Democrat, he is moving fast to get the backing of the most left-leaning figures in the Upper House.
Although there are no official endorsements yet, it is expected that he will eventually get the support of the aforementioned senator, Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ed. Markey (D-MA). On the other hand, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) assured that it is “too soon” to think about the race and praised Sinema as an “excellent” senator.
According to her platform, she supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, raising taxes for “billionaires” and claims that inflation is a consequence of “supply chain issues, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the conflict in Ukraine.” Of course, she did not leave out the “corporations” either.
“She has lost support from everybody and it’s because she abandoned Arizona long ago. (…) Where she is right now is a guaranteed third place and we need to have a strong candidate that´s actually talking to voters and respecting them,” Gallego said in a recent interview.
An advantage for the GOP in Arizona?
“Divide and conquer” is an oft-used expression attributed to the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. In this instance, it couldn’t fit the situation any better. If Sinema decides to run again, the state’s Democrats will have to choose between her name and Gallego’s, which is a plus for the Republicans. For Mitch McConnell, nothing better than a tug of war between progressive and moderate Democrats. And if the moderate runs as an independent, even better.
A strong GOP ticket could easily capitalize on the split Democratic vote and reclaim a seat that belonged to them for nearly 25 consecutive years. Moreover, with how favorable the 2024 map looks for Republicans, Sinema and Gallego could directly contribute to a hefty Republican majority starting in 2025.
Joaquín Núñez es licenciado en comunicación periodística por la Universidad Católica Argentina. Se especializa en el escenario internacional y en la política nacional norteamericana. Confeso hincha de Racing Club de Avellaneda. Contacto: [email protected] // Joaquín Núñez has a degree in journalistic communication from the Universidad Católica Argentina. He specializes in the international scene and national American politics. Confessed fan of Racing Club of Avellaneda. Contact: [email protected]