Rep. Ruben Gallego, R-Ariz., prepares to mark up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 before the House Armed Services Committee in the Rayburn Building, Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Senate campaign said Tuesday it raised more than $1 million in one day after the Democrat began his bid for Sen. Kirsten Sinema’s coveted seat in the 2024 election cycle.
More than 27,000 donations contributed to the fundraiser, breaking the Arizona record for the most donations in the first 24 hours of the campaign, according to a press release from the campaign.
Gallego’s company said it broke that record, previously held by incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, in just eight hours.
“I’m proud to report that on our first day we received more donations from real people than Senator Sinema has in the last three years combined,” Gallego said in a press release.
A spokesman for Sinema declined to comment, but pointed to a a recent radio interview in which the senator said she was “going to focus on the work I have ahead of me.”
“There’s still a lot of really important work to be done in Arizona,” Sinema said in that Friday interview.
Gallego’s early surprise bid for the Senate brought Sinema, who had recently renounced the Democratic Party and become independenthas not yet announced whether she will seek re-election in 2024.
Sinema and several other centrist Democrats wielded enormous influence when the Senate was split 50-50 between the two parties, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holding the deciding vote. After that, they repeatedly drew the ire of their fellow Democrats in the Senate giving up on the back or forcing major changes on, large chunks of the president Joe Bidenlegislative agenda of Art and other key voices.
That math in the Senate changed after Democrats beat expectations in November’s midterm elections, extending their hold on the Senate to an outright majority, 51-49. When Sinema left the Democratic Party last month, she called the change “a reflection of who I’ve always been.”
But she also made it clear she would continue to negotiate with Democrats, helping the president’s party pass bills that helped make the 117th Congress one of the most productive in years.
By leaving the Democrats, Sinema will also avoid the Democratic primary if she wants to run again — a prospect that could lead to a three-way general election.
Despite an initial surge in fundraising for his campaign, Gallego ran for Senate amid skepticism that a more progressive candidate could win statewide in Arizona, where Republicans and “other” voters both outnumber Democrats.
Some Democrats on Capitol Hill were cautious about the race.
“Senator Sinema is a great member of Congress and a great member of the Senate, and she’s done a lot of good things here, but it’s too early to make a decision,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday.
Their predicament was welcome news for Republicans.
“Senator Sinema was an important part of the United States Senate, and the most important thing she did was save the institution itself by protecting the filibuster,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“I think there’s a big dilemma for the Democratic majority in the Senate to decide whether to support her or to support the Democratic nominee,” McConnell said.
Democrats face a tough road to holding on to a slim majority in the Senate next year. Early projections of the electoral map show that Democrats and independent candidates running with them are defending more seats in the Senate than Republicans. That includes Arizona, which is at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics simply labeled as “toss.”
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