Democrats in Arizona are becoming impatient as the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), has said his committee is “neutral” on the Senate race brewing between bisexual Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and her opponent Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).
While Sinema hasn’t officially declared that she’ll run for re-election in 2024 — and isn’t doing the expected petitioning, campaigning, and fundraising to run — she nonetheless filed paperwork to run in April 2023.
She began her career as a member of the Green Party. Now the party doesn’t matter. It’s just all about the green.
Sinema left the Democratic Party to become an Independent last December. If she runs as an Independent in the 2024 Arizona Senate race, she could split Democratic voters, helping an anti-LGBTQ+ Republican win the seat.
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In the meantime, Senate Democrats seem eager not to upset Sinema since they need her continued support to pass important Democratic measures in the upper Congressional chamber. This strategy is at odds with two facts: first, Sinema’s votes have sometimes helped Senate Republicans defeat Democratic bills, and second, majorities of Arizona voters in every political party dislike her.
“Democrats are playing a really dangerous game with sitting back and not engaging voters earlier,” said Luis Avila, an advisor to the Replace Sinema political action committee (PAC) which has been organizing to defeat Sinema.
Avila told The Daily Beast that the lack of a decision makes it more difficult for Democrats to fundraise, organize a campaign team, and begin defining a media strategy against Sinema.
“This kind of fear that Democrats have of pissing Sinema off, it’s making it harder for us to actually talk to voters in general,” Avila continued. “They want to know where we stand on Sinema… what Democrats are doing is making it harder for us to make the case for them.”
The reluctance has also made big-name and big-dollar donors reluctant to donate to Gallego, especially if it seems that the DSCC isn’t taking early action to ensure that he wins.
Nevertheless, smaller grassroots donors have been giving to Gallego’s campaign, Sacha Haworth, a senior adviser of the Replace Sinema PAC, told the aforementioned publication. The group also has the support of Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appeared in late June at an online fundraiser for Gallego.
In the second quarter of 2023, Sinema raised $1.3 million, mostly from big donors and PACS, but Gallego raised over $3 million during the same period, mostly from small online donors. Nevertheless, Sinema also has an additional $10 million in campaign funds that she hasn’t spent yet.
While Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is the only Republican to have officially declared his candidacy for the seat, it’s expected that failed anti-LGBTQ+ gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake will also run.
When asked about Peters’ “neutral” comment, DSCC spokesperson Maeve Coyle told the aforementioned publication, “Republicans have suffered resounding Senate defeats in Arizona the last three election cycles in a row, and we are confident we will stop Republicans in their effort to take this Senate seat.”