Here’s the latest news today out of Arizona courtesy of Morning Consult’s latest polling:
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema continues to rank among America’s most unpopular senators following her departure from the Democratic Party, according to Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking in all 50 states.
But less than two years out from a potential 2024 re-election campaign, surveys conducted after she announced her decision to become an independent reveal a coalitional shift that’s made her more popular with Arizona’s unaffiliated and Republican voters but hastened her descent with the state’s Democrats.
Following Sinema’s Dec. 9 declaration that she was separating from the Democratic Party, her overall approval rating only moved marginally. But among Democrats in her state, whose national apparatus helped her flip a seat in the 2018 midterm elections, Sinema’s disapproval rating climbed 18 percentage points, to 59%.
Over the same time period, her approval rating spiked among independents (from 29% to 42%) and Republicans (from 38% to 43%), leaving her with mixed reviews among those groups.
Even before Sinema’s exit from the party, Arizona Democrats were divided over her job performance — enough to make her the least popular Democratic senator among Democratic voters in the fourth quarter of 2022, and especially vulnerable to the kind of primary challenge that was apparently in the works by Rep. Ruben Gallego.
Should Sinema seek re-election as an independent next year, political strategists in the state believe the weight of her new standing among Arizona Republicans and independents — a handy asset — will likely come down to whether the state GOP elevates a candidate with broader appeal or reaches for the extreme as it did with nominees for statewide offices such as governor and Senate in 2022.
Some Republicans in Arizona see Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb or 2022 Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters as potential contenders to appeal next year to the GOP’s rightward flank, while Karrin Taylor Robson, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2022, and state Treasurer Kimberly Yee are being eyed by those looking for a candidate with broader appeal.
Here’s a brief breakdown:
Here’s the full list of the Most Unpopular Senators:
Something you should know regarding the GOP side:
However, Lake is still pretty busy being a sore loser:
Former Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake has said she is willing to take her midterm election appeals to the Supreme Court in her attempt to overturn November's results.
Lake, who lost her race for Arizona governor to Democrat Katie Hobbs by more than 17,000 votes, has so far failed in every attempt to have the results reversed while pushing widely dismissed claims of voter fraud.
During an appearance at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida alongside the former president on Tuesday, Lake said she is prepared to appeal to the Supreme Court, where the conservative bench contains three Trump-appointed judges.
"Our movement is so massive that they had to stop us because we were going to do exactly what this amazing man [Trump] was doing for America in Arizona," Lake said.
"And they didn't want that. So we're still fighting. We're in the appeals court now. We'll take it to the Arizona Supreme Court. We're gonna go to the U.S. Supreme Court, but I will not stop fighting until we have our freedom back."
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side:
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) is taking new steps to build a Senate campaign-in-waiting, signing on a pollster, interviewing paid media firms, and pulling in veterans from Sens. John Fetterman, Mark Kelly, and Raphael Warnock’s teams.
Gallego’s most recent moves, first shared with POLITICO, include hiring a finance director: Danny Carroll, who previously worked for Kelly’s reelection campaign in 2022.
It is, in part, a gesture of defiance directed at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), whose recent switch in party registration to independent served as an implicit warning to Democrats that if they ran against her they risked splitting the vote and handing the seat to the Republicans.
Gallego, a Marine combat veteran who has built a reputation as an unabashed progressive, has made clear he’s been unswayed by Sinema’s moves. The congressman has also enlisted Chuck Rocha, a former top aide to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, as a senior adviser. Rocha will be tasked with, among other things, spearheading and overseeing Gallego’s Latino outreach effort, a critical element in the battleground state of Arizona where a third of the population is Hispanic.
At the same time, Gallego has been working to build up a war chest. Since Sinema made her announcement, he has received more than 25,000 individual financial contributions, his advisers told POLITICO. At the end of 2022, Gallego’s House campaign committee had $1.1 million on hand, according to the most recent campaign finance reports — money that could be used in a Senate bid, should he launch one.
“Gallego has assembled an amazing team of Democratic operatives behind the biggest wins of 2022,” said Rebecca Katz, a top consultant to Gallego who founded the Democratic firm New Deal Strategies and helped guide Fetterman’s 2022 win. “The latest polling shows that Gallego is the strongest Democrat to hold this seat and the best candidate period for preventing Republicans from winning Arizona in 2024.”
And Gallego is warning us about the upcoming threats to our democracy:
Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, a former Marine who two years ago leaned on his combat experience in Iraq to help lawmakers put on gas masks, regulate their breathing, and survive the attack of rioters who broke into the U.S Capitol building on January 6, says he thinks there will be another assault on American democracy — but next time it will be different.
"This type of brazen action probably won't happen the same way," he told Newsweek during an interview that occurred as drama unseen in 100 years unfolded on the House floor, as the newly elected Republican majority was unable to agree on a Speaker. "It would be through legal decisions, the Supreme Court, lower courts, and state houses to make decisions of this nature and corrupting other forms of government."
Beyond a conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court that has already overturned federal abortion protections, Gallego was also referring to restrictive state election laws that could disenfranchise voters of color, as well as to the rise of election deniers running for critical offices that work to administer elections in key states.
But Gallego also noted the positives from the midterm elections, including that election deniers running for positions as secretaries of state and governorships across the country all lost, while Adrian Fontes in Arizona and Cisco Aguilar in Nevada both defeated election deniers to become secretaries of state in pivotal southwest swing states.
"It's a good sign, but it means we were able to stave them off this cycle," he warned. "We need to worry about next cycle. We need to worry about a lot of things."
And highlighting what we’re up against in the House:
Gallego is expected to make his official announcement soon. Click here if you want to donate to Gallego’s campaign.
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