Ruben Gallego is Running for the US Senate: What a Potential Three-Way Race Means

Ruben Gallego. Photo Credit: Vox

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has been quite the magnet for attention. She has relished her position as a swing Senator, one of the very few of the 100 senators that is a genuine question mark on many votes. She seems to enjoy the spotlight, with her fashion and mannerisms often getting the press’s attention. But one very clear point of attention has been from Arizona Democrats, and how her votes have often not pleased them.

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall regarding a likely loss in a 2024 Democratic primary, Sinema made the move to an Independent political status. That created a clear power vacuum on the Democratic side, and since power doesn’t like vacuums it was filled quickly. In what was one of the worst held secrets in local politics, Congressman Ruben Gallego announced that he will run for that US Senate seat in 2024.

So what does that mean for the 2024 race? In short…chaos. Maybe.

Since Sinema is now Independent, on its face this move paves the way for a three way race, the sort of scenario that both political observers and political consultants salivate over. A scenario such as this would easily be one of the most interesting political litmus tests in modern history: after all, voter registration is quite balanced in our state, with Republicans at 35%, “Others” at 34% and Democrats at 31%.

Sinema has positioned herself at the ultimate independent for quite some time, able to pull votes from each bucket of voters. While she has alienated many, she likely has a floor of at least 35%, which in a pure three-way race could be enough to win…IF she wants to run. Speculation amongst many on the Democratic side put that in doubt, and many assume that she will instead move to the private side. After all, she could make plenty of money as a lobbyist.

When it comes to Gallego, his positioning is an interesting one. He’s a former Marine with a populist streak and quite a bit of bombast; he’s not shy about using expletives against other legislators. He has a strong populist path, and leaving aside obvious demographic similarities is very similar to the one that Mayor David Ortega rode towards a win in Scottsdale. The difference will be that Ortega didn’t have a D beside his name on the ballot though.

Also, the TBD question is who will make it through the Republican primary. Will the GOP learn their lessons from the last few election seasons and NOT nominate a Trump acolyte? Will they choose someone who has a chance of pulling independent votes, or will the rumors of Kari Lake being interested in the race come to fruition and GOP voters nominate her?

There are very many questions to be answered, but one thing that is likely is that Ruben Gallego has a relatively narrow path towards a general election victory. But if Sinema chooses not to run and the Republicans nominate someone like Lake, it’s certainly not impossible. But one thing is for certain: Gallego would need more than purely Democratic voters considering the registration disadvantage of the Democrats. He will need to tap into the type of populism that Trump did, and at least a few stars will need to align.