Politics

Twitter is celebrating Rep. Ruben Gallego’s campaign against “out-of-touch” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego speaking with supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona on March 21, 2016.
U.S. Congressman Ruben Gallego speaking with supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, Arizona on March 21, 2016.Photo: Gage Skidmore

Twitter commenters seem largely to support Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) after he announced his intention to run for the Arizona Senate seat currently held by the Democrat-turned-Independent, bisexual Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Other commenters questioned how Senate Democrats will handle Sinema leading up to the 2024 election.

In his first campaign ad, posted on Monday, Gallego spoke about growing up in poverty and helping his single mother raise his three younger sisters. He said the American Dream inspired him to attend Harvard and serve in the military in Iraq.

“The rich and the powerful, they don’t need more advocates. It’s the people that are still trying to decide between groceries and utilities that need a fighter for them,” he said in his ad. “There is no lobbyist for working families. If you’re more likely to be meeting with the powerful than the powerless, you’re doing this job incorrectly.”

While Sinema hasn’t officially announced her re-election bid, Gallego’s ad seems directed at Sinema, who has been criticized for allying with wealthy business interests.

In tweets announcing his campaign, Gallego wrote, “Senator Sinema is calling herself an ‘independent’ now. Well she’s not independent from Wall St, Big Pharma, or their pricey lobbyists. Arizonans know better. Help us prove it.”

In another tweet, he wrote, “Kyrsten Sinema hasn’t held a town hall in Arizona for years. Instead, she flies to Switzerland for a town hall with the rich and powerful. Not a Joke!”

In response to Gallego’s announcement, lesbian and trans activist Charlotte Clymer wrote, “It took Ruben Gallego less than three and a half minutes to make Kyrsten Sinema look unreasonable, unserious, and out-of-touch, and all he did was tell his own story.”

Olivia Julianna – a queer teen who stood up to a powerful Republican lawmaker and raised millions for reproductive freedom – also tweeted in support of Gallego.

“I met @RubenGallego last year before I rose to popularity and I jokingly told him that my plan was just to be Governor of TX— to which he replied ‘hell yeah’ and high-fived me; telling me how he started out as a community activist too. Whatever I can do to help, I will.”

MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes wrote, “[Sinema] votes for the wealthy and big corporate interests at the expense of regular working people—because that’s what she appears to believe in. Well now she’s going to have to answer for those beliefs.”

Reporter Amanda Carpenter stated, “Primary isn’t until Aug 2024. Gallego has lots of time to create excitement while Sinema inevitably drags her feet and, characteristically, refuses to talk to press. My money is on Ruben, no question.”

“Sinema is romping around Davos in her furry vest. She ain’t running,” Carpenter added.

Journalist Matthew Chapman doubted Sinema’s chances, asking, “Okay, let’s assume you’ve cleared the field for Sinema. What then? Who’s going to give money to her? Who’s going to knock doors for her? How would she win over the majority of *independents* who disapprove of her? She is in this mess in the first place because she is unpopular.”

Others commented on how Democratic lawmakers are handling the challenge.

Congressional reporter Andrew Desiderio wrote, “Dems are being careful here because they don’t want to alienate Sinema while they still need her vote, especially when vulnerable Dems need some slack this cycle. Plus, she receives her committee assignments from Dems & votes with them overwhelmingly, especially on nominees.”

Political reporter Bryan Metzger wrote, “[For what it’s worth], not aware of anyone who’s said they’ll back Gallego over Sinema, but Senate Democrats seem to be punting on that question until: 1) She officially announces 2) Schumer and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] make their position clear.”

A recent poll found that most Arizona voters disapprove of  Sinema after she left the Democratic Party late last year, making her one of “America’s most unpopular senators.”

Sinema is immensely disliked among Democrats. The Arizona Democratic Party voted to censure Sinema in January 2022, citing her failure to help pass federal voting rights legislation. Arizona Democrats also blasted her for being “noticeably absent” on the campaign trail during the 2022 midterm elections.

Powerful Democratic consultants have dropped  Sinema since she disaffiliated from the Democratic Party to register as an Independent. Their departure will make it more difficult for her to win re-election in her home state if she runs again in 2024.

The company that tracks Democratic voter data, NGP VAN, is planning to remove Sinema’s access by the end of the month, The Huffington Post reported. She has also reportedly lost partnerships with the polling firm she has worked with, Impact Research, as well her 2018 ad creator Dixon/Davis Media Group.

The departures are notable because they’ll limit Sinema’s ability to tout her political accomplishments in advertising and to reach voters who supported her in past elections. Current polling also suggests that she’d face an uphill climb in a future election.

Gallego was first elected to Congress in 2014, and he currently represents much of inner Phoenix. One of his first acts as a member of Congress was to become vice-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. The Human Rights Campaign has called him a “stalwart champion for the LGBTQ community.”

Here are some more reactions to his announcement.

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