Sinema's Departure from Democrats Paves Way for 3-Way Senate Race

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
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After months of speculation, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema left the Democratic Party and switched to being a registered independent on Friday.


She’ll likely still caucus with Democrats, but this marks a crucial moment for the Senate and her former party as it embarks on a new meeting in January, as RedState reported.

While Sinema has not officially said whether or not she’ll run for re-election again in 2024, it would certainly cause a major shakeup for both parties if she chose to do so.

For Democrats, it’s been clear for months that Congressman Ruben Gallego has been eyeing the Senate seat, as he’s been one of the loudest critics of Sinema. Gallego released a statement on Friday morning slamming the senator and saying that he’s “never backed down” and left a donation link at the end of his tweet.

“Last month, the voters of Arizona made their voices heard loud and clear — they want leaders who put the people of Arizona first. We need Senators who will put Arizonans ahead of big drug companies and Wall Street bankers,” Gallego said.

“Whether in the Marine Corps or in Congress, I have never backed down from fighting for Arizonans. And at a time when our nation needs leadership most, Arizona deserves a voice that won’t back down in the face of struggle. Unfortunately Senator Sinema is once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans,” he added.


This kind of rhetoric from Gallego and other Democrats is probably one of the reasons why Sinema left the party. She was censured by the state party in January over her vote to keep the filibuster in place, which essentially blocked “voting rights” legislation, according to NPR. If someone is considered public enemy number one by their own party for simply thinking independently, then it more than makes sense to leave.


On the Republican side, a challenger is not entirely clear, but the rumor mill is floating a bunch of names. Names will start to emerge presumably in the spring and early summer.

Ultimately, a three-way race could be good news for Republicans assuming the Democrats nominate Gallego or benefit Sinema in an unconventional way. Moderate voters in Arizona could split between the Sinema and whoever the Republican is if they’re not considered overly polarizing. There are enough independent voters in Arizona to get Sinema just over the line, but the real question is what base will turn out in heavier numbers: the Republicans or the Democrats?

Republicans and Democrats will need to nominate wisely, as three-way races with all serious contenders are unusual, and the typical political playbook will need to be thrown out.


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