The campaign by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) to unseat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is touting its over $1 million fundraising haul, achieved in just the 24 hours after Gallego announced his campaign on Monday, perhaps portending an uphill battle for Sinema to keep her seat after provoking the ire of progressives and Democrats over the past years.
In a press release, the Gallego campaign announced that it had raised over $1 million from more than 27,000 donations in the first day. The campaign said that it broke the state’s previous 24-hour fundraising record set by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) over just eight hours.
“I am extremely grateful for the support our campaign has received since entering this race. We’re running a grassroots campaign to take back this seat for hardworking Arizonans, and this fundraising record proves that,” Gallego said in a statement.
“While Senator Sinema collects huge checks from powerful special interests, this campaign is going to be funded by the people, and that’s the way it should be. I’m proud to announce that we received more donations from real people on our first day than Senator Sinema has in the last three years combined,” he continued, emphasizing Sinema’s close relationship with corporate donors and deep pocketed interests.
Sinema has spent recent years driving a dagger into the heart of Democrats’ priorities in Congress, seemingly on behalf of those donors. Before switching her party affiliation from Democrat to independent, she teamed up with fellow conservative Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) multiple times in blocking her own party from passing legislation to combat the climate crisis and fund anti-poverty programs like the expanded child tax credit.
These moves made her one of the most unpopular senators, polls found, and her recent decision to switch her party affiliation didn’t help much. Sinema has not only raised the ire of progressives, but more centrist Democrats as well, and polling done shortly after the switch in late December found that Sinema would finish in a distant third with only 13 percent of the vote in a hypothetical matchup between Sinema, Gallego and far right election denier Kari Lake.
Gallego has vowed that his campaign won’t be funded by corporate interests, saying that “this campaign is going to be funded by the people,” per Common Dreams.
Progressives have rallied behind Gallego’s campaign; progressive activists began launching campaigns to replace Sinema in 2021, three years before the election, due to Sinema’s obstruction.
Groups like Our Revolution say they see 2024 not only as an opportunity to replace Sinema, but also to grow the slate of progressives in the Senate with Gallego and someone like Rep. Katie Porter (D-California). Both are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House and support litmus-test ideas like Medicare for All, though their previous stances on issues like Israeli apartheid may give pause to some on the left.
Still, Gallego could pick up the support of key progressive lawmakers as it gets closer to the election. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has said that he backs the general idea of a Democrat challenging Sinema, stating last January that he would consider throwing his weight behind someone running to replace her.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) indicated last year that she would back Gallego, who had not yet announced his campaign. “If it came down to someone like Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema, I think that would be the easiest decision I would ever have to make,” she said. “There is no comparison…. We need someone that has more allegiance to the actual people of this country than special interests.”
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