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Who is Ruben Gallego, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Arizona?

The race for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s seat could be among the most competitive 2024 Senate races

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Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., says he’ll challenge independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in 2024.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is seen in the U.S. Capitol, July 14, 2022, in Washington. Gallego says he’ll challenge independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona in 2024. Monday’s announcement makes Gallego the first candidate to jump into the race in the battleground state and sets up a potential three-way contest. No Republican has currently announced a run.

Tom Williams, Associated Press

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., announced Monday he’s running for U.S. Senate, setting up a possible three-way race for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s, I-Ariz., seat.

Gallego backed Sinema in her successful 2018 Senate run, but he’s since grown critical of the Democrat-turned-independent. When Sinema left the Democratic Party late last year, Gallego said she was “once again putting her own interests ahead of getting things done for Arizonans.”

In a biographical campaign announcement video, Gallego alluded to Sinema, who he’s criticized for siding with corporations and billionaires.

“There is no lobbyist for working families,” he said. “We could argue different ways about how to do it, but at the core if you’re more likely to be meeting with the powerful than the powerless, you’re doing this job incorrectly. I’m sorry that politicians have let you down, but I am going to change that.”

Who is Ruben Gallego?

Gallego is a U.S. Marine veteran who served in Iraq. His company lost 23 men, one of the highest Marine casualties of any Marine unit in Iraq, per his announcement. He wrote about his experience in Iraq in his 2021 book “They Called Us ‘Lucky.’”

A Harvard graduate and former Arizona state lawmaker, Gallego was first elected to the U.S. House in 2014 where he’s currently serving his fifth term. He has sat on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and House Armed Services Committee.

The first candidate to announce he’s running for the seat, Gallego is the early favorite to win the Democratic nomination after Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., said last week he won’t run for Senate.

Who would win in a three-way race?

Sinema has yet to say if she’ll seek reelection. She told KTAR last week, “I’m not really thinking or talking about the election right now — although others are — I’m staying focused on the work.”

Sinema became the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona in more than two decades before leaving the party. Early polling by Public Policy Polling released last December found Sinema with 13% support behind Gallego at 40% and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake at 41%.

Lake hasn’t said whether she’ll run for Senate, and she hasn’t conceded since losing last year’s gubernatorial race, tweeting in part Sunday, “I won. The Red Wave happened.” An analysis by the Arizona Republic found Lake alienated 33,000 voters in Maricopa County who voted for Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs but otherwise voted for Republican candidates in down-ballot races.

Arizona’s 2024 Senate race could be one of the most competitive, with Inside Elections rating it one of nine battleground races.