A couple tantalizing data points have made the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) look like an increasingly bright spot for Democrats amid an unquestionably tough cycle.
The first, per NBC reporting, is that Sinema has not yet filed her statement of intent with the Arizona secretary of state to start collecting signatures. She still could; she has until April 8 to submit 42,303 signatures, which is not a huge number. But it’d be pretty strange to let it go so late if she was planning to run again.
If she doesn’t run, that’s a huge relief for Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who wouldn’t have to worry about her picking off any Democrats/independents he’ll need to win. So far, much of Gallego’s campaigning has targeted Sinema, his quasi-primary challenger. Her bowing out would let him focus on his Republican opponent.
Which brings us to — Kari Lake. Lake this week allegedly forced the Arizona GOP chair to resign after releasing a recording of a conversation between the two of them in which he dangled various carrots — a corporate job, money — to keep her from running for Senate this year. Lake released the recording and, per ex-chair Jeff DeWit, threatened to release more recordings if he didn’t resign (her camp denies this).
“The interest of myself and any other people in wanting Kari to consider sitting on the sidelines for a cycle purely revolved around her limited appeal with moderates and independents, and her being a drag on the entire ticket,” DeWit told the New York Times. “My desire as party chairman is to put forth the best slate of candidates, and Mark Lamb has a broader appeal and positive approach.”
Lamb, a sheriff, is also running for the Republican nomination, though Lake is favored.
While Lake’s camp cried RINO treachery, DeWit countered that those pushing for Lake to sit the race out “are actually very pro-Trump and think she could hurt his chances.”
Lake ran for Arizona governor in 2022 on a Big Lie platform and was beaten by current Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), who flipped the governor’s mansion. Lake has spent much of her time since trying to prolong her own Big Lie myth in endless lawsuits (developments in which she breathlessly reports on her social media accounts, usually accompanied by fundraising links), and following Donald Trump around the country. She’s hard-right, enthusiastically MAGA — an odd fit for a general electorate in an increasingly blue state.
Both of these data points could change before election day. But if a) Sinema doesn’t run and b) Lake wins the Republican primary, Arizona gets a hell of a lot more comfortable for Democrats who’ll have their hands full defending seats in such hostile terrain as Montana, Ohio and West Virginia.
Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly said that the Arizona signature deadline was April 4, not April 8. We regret the error.
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