Republican attack ad targets Gallego, Sinema

By Wayne Schutsky
Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2023 - 10:43am

Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema
Mary Grace Grabill and Keerthi Vedantam/Cronkite News
Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema

The National Republican Senatorial Committee got personal in a new digital ad attacking Democratic Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego.

The new ad took digs at Gallego over his divorce from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and his second marriage to a Washington, D.C., lobbyist.

Democratic strategist Tony Cani said the ad shows national Republicans are worried about their chances in Arizona’s competitive U.S. Senate campaign. Several polls show Gallego leading in a potential three-way race with Sinema, who has not yet announced whether she will seek re-election, and the presumptive GOP nominee, Kari Lake. 

Cani said Gallego’s personal story as the son of a single mother from an immigrant family that worked his way through Harvard  is one of the candidate’s strengths. 

“I think that this shows they’re going to try to do character assassination, because they know that is a compelling story in Arizona for the type of voters that you need in order to win an election statewide,” he said.

The same ad also attacked incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party last year. The ad alleges she’s continued to support President Joe Biden’s agenda even as an independent.

The NRSC cited Sinema’s voting record, which aligns closely with Biden’s agenda, but it does not mention her high-profile efforts to block votes on some issues supported by Biden. That includes Sinema’s high-profile opposition to a push by Democrats to reform filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate in 2022 in an attempt to pass voting rights legislation. 

Cani said the move to label Sinema a liberal are borne out of concerns that some Republican voters may abandon Lake for Sinema, which would in turn help Gallego’s chances.

“They know that Kari Lake is going to be the nominee and that she is a deeply flawed candidate, and so they are going up on the air early in what essentially is an ad for the Republican primary, because they are trying to get Republicans who are abandoning Kari Lake for Sinema to come back,” he said.

But Democratic lobbyist Marilyn Rodriguez told KJZZ’s The Show that she is skeptical of a poll that showed Sinema would pull more votes away from Lake than Gallego, saying history shows that candidates from minor parties typically pull votes away from the major party they are most closely associated with. 

“It wasn't too long ago that U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was elected as the Democratic senator,” Rodriguez said. “That's how people, normal people on the street, remember her.”

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