Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona is seeking that state’s U.S. Senate seat that’s currently held by Kyrsten Sinema.
“You’re the first group of people that are hearing this besides my family,” Gallego told a veterans’ group in Guadalupe, Ariz., in a video posted to social media. “I will be challenging Kyrsten Sinema for the United States Senate, and I need all of your support.”
Sinema, who is up for reelection in 2024, was the first out bisexual elected to the U.S. House and later the Senate; she was previously an Arizona state legislator. She has disappointed many liberals (and members of the LGBTQ+ community) by opposing much of President Joe Biden’s agenda and supporting the filibuster, the procedural rule under which it takes the votes of 60 senators to close debate on a bill and move to a vote on the bill itself. This has blocked much progressive legislation.
Sinema and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have been the most conservative Democratic senators in the past few years. Sinema recently changed her party affiliation to independent, but she still caucuses with the Democrats. She hasn’t said if she’ll seek reelection next year, and her staff declined to comment when various media outlets asked about Gallego’s run.
Gallego was first elected to the House in 2014. He represents Arizona’s Seventh Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Phoenix, Glendale, and Tolleson. He is an LGBTQ+ ally, with a string of perfect 100 scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.
His video highlights the fact that he grew up in poverty, the son of an immigrant single mother, but that he rose to attend and graduate from Harvard University. “I had a government that believed in kids like me,” he said. The video also notes his time in the U.S. Marines; he served in combat in Iraq. He is of Colombian and Mexican heritage and would be the first Latinx U.S. senator from Arizona.
In the video, he promises to be a champion for people who are struggling. “Most families feel that they are one or two paychecks away from going under. That is not the way that we should be living in this country,” he said. “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.”
Republicans have their eyes on Sinema’s seat as well. Kari Lake, who lost the 2022 Arizona governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, is considering a run, CNN reports. So is one of her Republican primary opponents, Karrin Taylor Robson. Another potential GOP contender is Blake Masters, who unsuccessfully challenged Arizona’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Mark Kelly, in last year’s election.