GOP fears Senate race in Arizona could tilt toward Democrats
BY SAMANTHA-JO ROTH Washington Examiner
When Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-ariz., left the Democratic Party last year to become an independent, many political experts believed if she decided to run for reelection, her bid could ultimately boost a Republican candidate to victory.
However, recent polling suggests Sinema could siphon away twice as many Republican voters as Democrats in a potential three-way race in a state that is 34% Republican, 34% independent, and 30% Democratic, according to Arizona data. Sinema has not yet said whether she will run, but if she does, she would likely face Rep. Ruben Gallego D-ariz., a Democratic progressive who announced his bid in January, and Kari Lake, a polarizing conservative who lost her election for governor last year.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is attempting to sway the GOP electorate away from Sinema and Gallego with a new ad this week titled “A Choice.” The spot claims Sinema votes with the president “100%” of the time without mentioning the headaches the Arizona independent has caused for President Joe Biden, at times derailing his agenda. It also focuses on Gallego, calling him a “deadbeat dad,” diving into his personal life and divorce from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.
“National Democrats are fighting a lose-lose civil war over who they’ll make their standard bearer: Rotten Ruben Gallego or liberal rubber stamp Kyrsten Sinema. Arizonans deserve better,” said NRSC spokesman Tate Mitchell in a statement.
The messaging suggests national Republicans are attempting to transform the three-way race into a battle between a Republican and two Democrats, but some in the state fear the tactic won’t be successful.
“I’m just not sure that’s going to work as a strategy overall,” said an Arizona Republican speaking on condition of anonymity. “Many voters here know Sinema has caused massive headaches for the president with his Build Back Better agenda and the filibuster, so these kinds of attacks just unfortunately aren’t based in reality.”
“I can tell you a real concern among some of us is that Gallego will end up as the next senator of Arizona as a result of this three-way race,” the Republican added. “That would be a real nightmare for us.”
Some in the state believe the personal attacks associated with Gallego could backfire, especially since many describe the congressman’s relationship with his ex-wife as “cordial.”
“I don’t think that was a very effective piece. The mayor of Phoenix, who is [Gallego’s] ex-wife, I think will end up endorsing him,” said Chuck Coughlin, a longtime Arizona operative who is the CEO and founder of the Phoenix-based firm Highground.
Coughlin believes it’s clear that Sinema has a limited ceiling with Democratic voters but could be more viable with Republicans who can’t stomach voting for a candidate like Lake, who has alienated some moderates in the state bragging about driving “a stake through the heart of the Mccain machine” during her gubernatorial primary last cycle. Lake was among the most vocal Republican candidates who promoted former President Donald Trump‘s false claims of a stolen election in 2020.
“Whereas on the Republican side, you know, she’s been this source of compromise, which makes herself available to those centrist voters who want to see progress who are frustrated with government,” Coughlin said of Sinema.
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The Gazette, Colorado Springs