Politico also writes that, following Sinema’s party switch, the congressman’s launch was “essentially kicked into overdrive,” though Gallego himself reiterated, “this is a 2023 decision.” One person whose support he can count on if he seeks a promotion is Rep. Raul Grijalva, who tells Politico he’s already told Gallego he’s in his corner.
Gallego may not have the nomination contest to himself, though, as NBC reports that fellow Rep. Greg Stanton is considering. Stanton, a former Phoenix mayor who was elected in 2018 to replace Sinema herself in the House, has not directly confirmed his interest in a statewide bid. However, he did reveal Friday that he’d commissioned a statewide poll that showed him easily beating her in a primary.
On the Republican side, a spokesperson for Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb tells NBC that his boss is looking at it and will be “making a decision in early 2023.” An unnamed ally of Kari Lake, who is continuing to spread lies about her loss last month to Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs, says she’s encouraging Lamb to run but doesn’t want to do it herself. “Kari is getting lots of calls but she’s pretty disillusioned right now and she likes the sheriff and told him she wants to see him run for senate,” this source told NBC, predicting, “Lamb is beloved by the base and could really clear a primary field.” Lamb, like Lake, is one of the far-right’s more prominent figures in the state.
Politico, meanwhile, relays that some Republicans want outgoing Gov. Doug Ducey to campaign for the Senate. Ducey, though, turned down Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s overtures to run against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly back in March after spending over a year on the receiving end of Donald Trump’s abuse, and he didn’t sound remotely interested in a future campaign for the upper chamber. “If you're going to run for public office, you have to really want the job,” the governor told his donors as he explained why he did not want Kelly’s job.
Party operatives also name-dropped two congressmen, Reps. Andy Biggs and David Schweikert, for Politico, though they both have huge liabilities. Biggs is the type of far-right extremist who did poorly statewide last month, and his decision to challenge Kevin McCarthy for the speakership shows he’s not interested in making nice with party leaders. Biggs, whom Sinema has identified as a friend, himself said Friday that being an independent could be “a better home for her.” Schweikert, for his part, only won re-election 50.4-49.6 after Democrat Jevin Hodge and his allies highlighted his ethics violations.
Finally, there’s the question of what Sinama, who did not commit to running for re-election, will do in 2024. The senator’s decision to go solo means that she no longer needs to worry about a primary challenge from Gallego or anyone else, but she would have a different issue to fret over if she wanted to make it to the general election ballot.
Former state elections director Eric Spencer tells KTAR News that he estimates that independent Senate candidates would need about 45,000 signatures to advance, compared to the 7,000-8,000 required to make it to the primary. Sinema could collect these from Democrats, Republicans, or fellow independents, though Spencer says that because every voter can only sign one petition, “She’d be well advised to start hitting the streets immediately.”
Sinema may also need the head start because there may not be that many voters who want her to continue to represent them. The Democratic firm Civiqs released numbers Friday, giving her a truly awful 18-61 favorable rating days before she became an independent. And while some Democrats like Grijalva have fretted that a Sinema campaign would “dilute” the blue vote in a general election, Civiqs found that Democrats already gave her a horrific 5-82 score even before she jumped ship. Republicans and independents, by contrast, gave her 25-45 and 25-56 ratings.
Sinema, though, will at least keep her Democratic committee assignments, including her chairmanship of two subcommittees, in the 118th Congress. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in his announcement that this will allow Democrats to “maintain our new majority on committees, exercise our subpoena power, and be able to clear nominees without discharge votes.”
The senator herself spent Friday morning refusing to say whether she’d actually continue to caucus with her former party, though she was clear about refusing to join a GOP coalition. However, Schumer almost certainly wouldn’t allow her to keep her panel assignments if he felt she wouldn’t at least be a nominal member of his caucus.
Well, that was an awesome way to finish out the 2022 election cycle! Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard revel in Raphael Warnock's runoff victory on this week's episode of The Downballot and take a deep dive into how it all came together. The Davids dig into the turnout shift between the first and second rounds of voting, what the demographic trends in the metro Atlanta area mean for Republicans, and why Democrats can trace their recent success in Georgia back to a race they lost: the famous Jon Ossoff special election in 2017.
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