Gallego holds first Arizona Senate campaign events

PHOENIX – Democrat Ruben Gallego held the first public events of his campaign for the US Senate on Saturday, targeting independent incumbent Kyrsten Sinema and framing his candidacy in a patriotic appeal to the American dream.

The fifth-term congressman recounted his journey from a poor family in Chicago to cleaning toilets as a Harvard student and tough combat duty as a US Marine in Iraq.

“I knew if I worked hard and kept my nose clean, this Latino kid in America would be successful. And I did,” Gallego told a crowd of several hundred supporters at Grant Park, a hub of Latino political organizing in central Phoenix.

Gallego began his campaign Monday with a video posted to social media and embarked on a national media tour before returning to Arizona. In addition to his Phoenix Rally on Saturday, he made similar appearances in Tucson and Casa Grande and scheduled Sunday stops in Flagstaff, the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe Reservation.

Gallego faces the toughest election campaign of his political career. Since winning a tough primary for his mostly Democratic congressional district in 2014, he has never faced serious opposition. He must now introduce himself to voters outside of his Phoenix borough.

He touted his military service and contradictory biography, saying that in many ways he was “the product of that American dream.” But he pointed to them Death of Tyre Nichols in the hands of five Memphis police officers as proof that more needs to be done.

“The American Dream has to include people like Tyré Nichols,” Gallego said. “It has to include black men who live and can live without fear, period. They also deserve the American Dream.”

Sinema was elected as a Democrat in 2018 but left the party late last year and registered as an independent after years of growing alienation from the party. She has not said whether she will stand for re-election.

“The problem with Kyrsten isn’t that she left the Democratic Party,” Gallego said. “The problem is that she left and left Arizona.”

Sinema has not directly commented on Gallego’s entry into the race, but last week on Twitter she touted the bipartisan deals she helped negotiate and suggested campaigns can wait.

“Arizona just had a brutal election season — I think we could all use a break.” Sinema wrote. “As I have done with infrastructure, tribal water safety, drought relief, LGBTQ+ rights, chips and more, I will deliver on my promise to deliver real results for our state.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Gallego holds first Arizona Senate campaign events

Sarah Y. Kim

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