As PJMedia’s Stephen Kruiser noted last month, “When Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) bolted from the Democratic Party and declared herself an independent, it immediately set up what promises to be one of the more interesting electoral battles during the 2024 cycle.” Sinema’s viability in the Arizona Democratic Party had long been shattered thanks to her few but extremely significant defections. Despite overwhelmingly backing the Biden agenda, she opposed the elimination of the filibuster to give Democrats the opportunity to pass their election overhauls, and she opposed Biden’s Build Back Better plan.
Liberal activists have been paving the way for a primary challenger to send Sinema into early retirement, and last month, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) predictably threw his hat into the ring. But, since Sinema is no longer a Democrat, assuming she runs for reelection, we have a three-way battle on the horizon, which, of course, gives the GOP a huge advantage.
Yet, some in the GOP are understandably nervous that the opportunity to win the seat back could slip through their fingers again, just as it did last year when Sen. Mark Kelly, widely seen as a vulnerable Democrat incumbent, managed to easily win reelection again Republican Blake Masters.
Masters is reportedly gearing up for another run. Kari Lake is also said to be considering it but is waiting to see how her election lawsuit pans out. Last month, a survey from the Democrat-leaning Blueprint Polling found that in a hypothetical 2024 three-way Arizona Senate Race with Gallego and Sinema, Kari Lake would win with 35.7% of the vote. Gallego comes in a close second with 31.9%, Sinema trails far behind with 13.8%, and another 18.6% are unsure.
Some strategists are nevertheless concerned about running a Republican candidate connected to Donald Trump, as Masters and Lake are.
“Just look at what happened in the last two elections. You in no way have to guess what happens when MAGA candidates ignore bread-and-butter issues that Arizonans care about,” Barrett Marson, an Arizona-based GOP strategist, told Politico. “Kari Lake is not governor. Blake Masters is not senator. Republicans have to get back to basics.”
While the aforementioned poll seems like good news for Kari Lake, her slim 3.8-point advantage over Gallego in a three-way race does give credence to the concern that candidates too close to Trump don’t run as strong in a state that, up until recently, was a reliably red state.
Related: There’s Another HUGE Bombshell in Kari Lake’s Election Lawsuit
“I want to win it to get the majority, and I’ll let Arizonans decide who the nominee is going to be. And I think somebody who can win should be the [deciding] factor,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told Politico. “They didn’t win before, so I think that makes it difficult.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) agrees. “Any candidate in ’24 that has, as their principal campaign theme, a stolen election, is probably going to have the same issues that some of the ’22 candidates had. I just don’t think that’s where the American public is. It’s a swing state — we need to have a good Republican nominee, obviously. You know, whoever gets in, I hope they focus on the future, not the past.”
The 2024 map for the U.S. Senate represents a big opportunity for the GOP, which is widely favored to win back the majority. Some projections suggest that Democrats won’t have a good chance of reclaiming the majority until 2030 or 2032, or even after. The bigger the majority Republicans can amass in 2024, the further insulated the upper chamber could be from falling into Democrat control again. Arizona Republicans better not screw this up.