Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., prepares to mark up the House Armed Services Committee in Rayburn on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Senate campaign said Tuesday it raised more than $1 million in the day after the Democrat launched his bid for Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s coveted seat in the 2024 election cycle.
More than 27,000 donations contributed to the sweep, breaking an Arizona record for the number of contributions in the first 24 hours of the campaign, the campaign said in a news release.
Gallego’s campaign said she broke the record previously held by incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in just eight hours.
“I am proud to announce that we received more donations from real people on the first day than Senator Sinema did in the last three years combined,” Gallego said in a press release.
A spokeswoman for Sinema declined to comment, but pointed to a recent radio interview in which the senator said she would “focus on the work at hand.”
“There’s a lot of really important work left on the table that we have to do for Arizona,” Sinema said in an interview Friday.
The first windfall for Gallego’s Senate bid was Sinema, who recently left the Democratic Party to become independentshe has not yet announced whether she will seek re-election in 2024.
Sinema and a handful of other centrist Democrats enjoyed enormous influence when the Senate was split 50-50 between the two parties, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris the deciding vote. They then repeatedly angered their fellow senators refusing to back down or force major changes on, big chunks of the president Joe Bidenlegislative agenda and other key voices.
That Senate math shifted after Democrats beat expectations in the November midterms to extend their hold on an outright majority in the Senate, 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 indicated she would continue to represent Democrats, a stance that has helped the president’s party pass bills that have made the 117th Congress one of the most productive in years.
By leaving the Democrats, Sinema will also avoid competing in the Democratic primary if he decides to run again — a prospect that could lead to a three-way general election.
Despite an initial surge in his campaign’s fundraising, Gallego’s Senate bid comes amid skepticism that a more progressive candidate can win statewide in Arizona, where Republicans and “other” voters both outnumber Democrats.
Some Democrats on Capitol Hill tread carefully when asked about the race.
“Senator Sinema is an outstanding member of Congress and 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, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday.
Their predicament was welcome news to Republicans.
“Senator Sinema was an important part of the United States Senate, and the most important thing she did was to save the institution itself by protecting the filibuster,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“I think the big dilemma for the Democratic majority in the Senate is whether to support her or someone who is running for the Democratic nomination,” McConnell said.
Democrats face a difficult road next year to maintain their slim Senate majority. Early projections of the electoral map show that Democrats and independent candidates with them are defending more seats in the Senate than Republicans. This includes Arizona, which is the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics just marked as “throw away.”