Gallego, a Marine combat veteran who has built a reputation as an unabashed progressive, has made it clear he is not impressed by Sinema’s moves. The congressman has also enlisted Chuck Rocha, a former top aide to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, as a senior advisor. Rocha will, among other things, be tasked with leading and overseeing Gallego’s Latino outreach effort, a key element in the battleground state of Arizona where a third of the population is Hispanic.

Additionally, Gallego is working to build a war chest. His advisers told POLITICO that since Sinema made its announcement, it has received more than 25,000 individual financial contributions. According to the most recent campaign finance report, at the end of 2022, the Gallego House campaign committee had $1.1 million on hand — money that could be used in a Senate bid, should he launch one.

“Gallego has assembled an amazing team of Democratic operatives behind his biggest 2022 victory,” said Rebecca Katz, a top Gallego adviser who founded the Democratic firm New Deal Strategies and helped drive Fetterman’s 2022 victory . “The latest polling shows Gallego is the strongest Democrat to hold this seat and the best candidate to prevent Republicans from winning Arizona in 2024.”

The behind-the-scenes effort by Gallego is an attempt at a show of force against Sinema. The senator announced she was changing her party registration from Democratic to independent in December, which was perceived as an attempt to avoid the primary and intimidate potential progressive challengers.

But Gallego’s moves are also a show of strength against potential Democratic contenders, whom he would prefer to keep out of an already crowded race.

repealed. Greg Stanton, a more moderate Democrat also rumored to be eyeing a run, had $64,000 in hand after conducting a successful race in a toss-up district late last year. Other potential Democratic contenders include Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, the ex-wife of Ruben Gallego.

Sinema, which had $7.9 million in the bank as of its most recent filing, has not officially announced whether it will seek re-election in 2024. but that Have filed paperwork to run as an independent,

Hannah Hurley, a spokeswoman for Sinema, declined to provide a comment for the story, pointing to the senator’s recent remarks that she is not focused on politics right now.

Andy Barr, a Democratic consultant who is a veteran of Arizona campaigns, said Gallego “will probably start as the front-runner for the primary,” although “if Greg Stanton wants to jump in, it’s going to be a little complicated.”

“People think of Reuben as this progressive firebrand — it’s kind of a label that gets put on him — but him being a veteran and having served in the war really mattered in a way that people Not greedy enough,” Barr added. Barr has previously worked for both Gallego and Stanton, but is not currently involved in their or any potential 2024 Senate campaigns.

Several Republican names have been released as potential Senate candidates in 2024, including unsuccessful 2022 gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, unsuccessful 2022 Senate candidate Blake Masters, Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Rep. andy biggs (R), Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, and former Rep. Matt Salmon.

Lake has recently encouraged supporters to run for Senate, according to a person familiar with those calls.

“On the Republican side, I think it has all the makings of a total jungle primary with multiple candidates,” said Brady Smith, an Arizona-based GOP strategist. “Republicans in Arizona are licking their chops cautiously as they watch this race.”

Gallego has taken other steps in recent weeks toward a Senate run. As previously reported by POLITICO, he brought on board GBAO Strategies, a Democratic pollster who consulted with Fetterman and Warnock’s campaigns in 2022.

For grassroots fundraising, Gallego Digital firm Isle 518 has recruited, Meanwhile, Katz, who has long served as Fetterman’s top strategist, is taking on a similar role to Gallego’s for the now-Pennsylvania senator, serving as a general counsel and Was streamlining Gallego’s communications strategy.

Kip Hebert and Carina Chacon from Katz’s firm are also joining the Gallego effort.

Until Gallego would make an official announcement about a possible Senate campaign, his advisers remained silent, with Katz saying only that it would come “soon”.

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