Democratic Rep. Rubén Gallego of Arizona told CBS News Wednesday that some Democratic senators are privately urging him to run against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who announced last week thatand be independent.
“There have been some senators who have encouraged me to run,” Gallego said in an interview. “There are some senators, some of Sen. Sinema’s colleagues, who are encouraging me to run.”
Gallego did not identify the senators who pushed him to jump into the Senate race, but he believes those senators would “absolutely” support him if he decides to run for the Senate next year.
Gallego added that the private stimulus, while welcome, would not be a “decision factor” in challenging Sinema. His decision, he said, would be prompted by discussions with family members and Arizona voters in the coming weeks.
Still, Gallego’s claim that some Democratic senators privately encouraged him comes as most of them won’t say publicly how they will handle Sinema’s upcoming Senate campaign, should he decide to seek re-election in 2024 and elect function independently.
And those private conversations between Gallego and some Democratic senators suggest possible differences among national Democrats over whether Sinema’s departure from the party should spark an effort to endorse a Democratic candidate, should Sinema run in 2024 as an independent rather than seek the Democratic Senate nomination.
“I’m focused right now on ending the lame duck,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. said on Tuesday, when asked if he would support a Democrat in Arizona in 2024.
Gallego said he is aware of how some Democratic senators seem uneasy, for now, about weighing in on Sinema’s long-awaited re-election campaign. But he said he wouldn’t let a scattering of off-color or vague comments from his colleagues deter him from considering a career.
“Probably not,” Gallego said Wednesday when asked if he would speak with Schumer before deciding whether to run for the Senate.
“[Schumer] it will not determine my future,” Gallego said. “Again, it’s the people of Arizona and my family. He is in no condition to even make decisions. First you have to balance the needs of the caucus. And by the time they figure out what they, how they’re going to balance Sinema still being there and me running for office, it’ll be too late. So once I make my decision, I’ll go and then we’ll talk to him at some point if he wants to.”
If Sinema runs as an independent in 2024, the state could be home to an unusually competitive three-way Senate race during the next presidential election cycle, pitting a Republican candidate, a Democratic candidate and an independent incumbent against each other.
Gallego, who recently traveled aboard Air Force One with President Biden, said he did not discuss a potential Senate run with the president during that flight as it was not a political trip.
But Gallego, who said he expects Biden to run for re-election in 2024, said Democrats should want to have a strong Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona during a presidential election year.
“I will say this: If I was running for president in Arizona in 2024, I would want to be with someone who would be proud to walk on stage with him and go to every part of Arizona,” Gallego said. “More importantly, getting the crucial Latino vote out. Time will tell what the calculations are there. I don’t need to push them. They’re certainly not pressuring me. But I know how strong I am and what I can be.”