Rep. Ruben Gallego, left, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Alex Wong/Getty Images
Ruben Gallego on Thursday blasted Sen. Sinema over what he said was her inattention to Arizona.
“She doesn’t speak to Arizonans anymore. She doesn’t actually talk to them,” he said on CNN.
Gallego on Monday announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Senate in Arizona.
Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Ruben Gallego on Thursday blasted Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema over her job performance, arguing that the lawmaker is “hardly” seen in the state and remarking that she “doesn’t speak to Arizonans anymore.”
During an appearance on CNN’s “This Morning,” Gallego — a congressman who has represented a Phoenix-anchored district since 2015 — told co-anchor Don Lemon that Sinema is “no longer popular with anybody.”
“Nobody in Arizona has really spoken to her in the last four years. This is why she is where she is,” he said, arguing that she would have been unable to win a Democratic Party primary. “She doesn’t really have anything unscripted. We hardly see her in Arizona. She has cut off everybody unless you are a big donor.”
“What matters is she doesn’t speak to Arizonans anymore. She doesn’t actually talk to them,” he added.
Gallego on Monday launched his candidacy ahead of the 2024 Democratic primary and general election in Arizona — where he hopes to lead the party to victory in the critical swing state.
The caveat: Sinema served in the US House as a Democrat for three terms and was elected to the Senate seat as the Democratic nominee in the 2018 midterms, but became an Independent last December.
At the time, Democrats were immediately concerned about Sinema endangering the precarious 51-49 majority that they had secured after the 2022 midterms, but she affirmed that her voting record would not change and pointed to her longtime independence as a legislator.
“The national political parties have pulled our politics farther to the edges than I have ever seen. I want to remove some of that kind of that poison from our politics,” she said during a CNN interview last month when explaining her decision to become an Independent. “I want to get back to actually just working on the issues, working together to try and solve these challenges.”
Since the announcement, Sinema has so far continued to caucus with Senate Democrats, but her switch still puts the party in a bind.
Sinema has not yet stated her plans to run for reelection, but if she goes ahead with a bid for a second term, party leaders would be faced with the dilemma of supporting her or opting for Gallego — who would be the choice of many base Democrats, especially among its progressive wing.
Such a contest would pit Gallego and Sinema against a Republican candidate — creating an unpredictable three-way race. Potential GOP entrants into the 2024 Senate election include Kari Lake, the party’s gubernatorial nominee last fall, along with 2022 Senate nominee Blake Masters and 2022 gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson.
Sinema did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.