Ruben Gallego Out-Pivoting Kari Lake and Muscling Her Out of the Middle

By Alexander Lomax

Typically in political campaigns that have both a contested primary election and a contentious general election, there exists the time-honored tradition of the Pivot: each candidate will play to the wings of their party in order to win the primary, and then move towards the center for the general election in order to appeal to a wider swatch of voters.

This year’s US Senate election in Arizona skipped right over the primary move to the wing; neither Kari Lake nor Ruben Gallego have serious primary contenders. But the pivot game has already started in earnest, and so far, it looks as though Ruben Gallego is winning in a big way.

Consider this article. Ruben Gallego has successfully courted some of the bigger names in local Republican politics, most namely well-known Republican political consultant Chuck Coughlin and a cadre of former McCain supporters. While fundraising was the main angle, it speaks to a significantly larger issue for the Lake campaign.

While many rank-and-file Republicans have issues with the iconic former Senator for taking more moderate stances on some issues, the fact is that by spending decades in the Senate, there is a massive apparatus of Washington insiders, fundraisers, and consultants that could be massively helpful to a candidate. While Lake’s disparagement of McCain in the past made it unlikely that that apparatus would mobilize for her, doing so for a Democrat with a significant history of being a fairly progressive bomb-thrower is another development entirely.

This development comes at an extremely unfortunate time for Lake. The RSCC, the organization that helps Republican candidates for Senate, has been reticent to embrace her campaign in full, and donations have been light. Gallego currently has a nearly 4-to-1 advantage in both funds raised and cash on hand, and the McCain campaign apparatus mobilizing for Gallego is likely to keep that difference in place.

While there is plenty of time to go, it already seems as though many Republicans are considering this race a lost cause and are devoting resources elsewhere in their quest for a Senate majority. Gallego has a long way to go in order to introduce himself to a statewide audience before the Republicans do, and rumors persist about a ribaldrous past that may come to light throughout the course of the campaign. That said, Republicans may currently be wishing that they had thrown their support behind a stronger candidate, because Lake’s attempt at pivoting towards the middle is clearly not working for at least one very important demographic.