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Kyrsten Sinema, late in fundraising, faces Senate re-election decision

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is late in deciding whether to run for re-election in Arizona. She also lacks time.

Ms. Sinema, who left the Democratic Party a little over a year ago to become an independent, still plans to run for a second term, her aides said. But new campaign finance reports show she is well behind the plan she and her team discussed last spring.

In April, Ms. Sinema and her advisers set a timeline for her decision that set a September 30 deadline for an initial round of public opinion polling and research on challengers, which include Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, and Kari Lake, a Republican television anchor turned politician who narrowly lost the gubernatorial race in 2022. By the end of December, Ms. Sinema reportedly had a campaign team in place.

But there is no indication that it carried out any significant surveys, research or staff recruitment in the last six months of last year. It spent $6.9 million over the past year, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission, much of which was spent on digital advertising, security and consulting.

New concerns have also emerged on the other side of his campaign calendar. Ms. Sinema has just collected less than $600,000 in the last three months of last year – the fourth consecutive quarter in which it had collected less than in the previous three months.

“There are no signs — literally or figuratively — that Kyrsten is going to run,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican strategist from Arizona.

Perhaps most urgently, Ms. Sinema’s spending also shows little indication that she has begun collecting tens of thousands of signatures she should put her name on the ballot. This process must be completed by April 8 in Arizona and can cost around $1 million, a total that will likely get more and more expensive the longer she waits to launch a campaign.

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A spokeswoman for Ms. Sinema said the senator had been focused on her work in Washington, including negotiations on a high-profile immigration bill, and had not yet made a decision to run for a second term.

Ms. Sinema $10.6 million According to the new documents, there is enough money in the bank to launch an effective campaign, said Hannah Hurley, a spokeswoman for Ms. Sinema.

“Kyrsten remains focused on continuing her work, which has a meaningful impact on the lives of Arizonians across the state, and not on campaign politics,” Ms. Hurley said. “She has the resources to continue delivering lasting results for Arizona.”

Ms Sinema’s eight-figure campaign bank account means she has more cash on hand than her two main challengers combined.

Mr. Gallego, the front-runner for the Democratic Senate nomination, was about $6.5 million available after raising $13.8 million for the year, its filings show. The leading Republican candidate, Ms. Lake, said she raised $2.2 million in the final three months of last year, her first quarter as a candidate.

Similar trends are reflected in the map of Senate races, where incumbent candidates, many of whom are Democrats, largely begin the year with significant financial advantages over their challengers.

In Montana, Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat seeking a fourth six-year term, reported raising $5.5 million in the fourth quarter of last year. His campaign did not say how much it spent during that period, but he $13.3 million in cash on September 30.

Mr. Tester’s primary Republican challenger, Tim Sheehy, a wealthy businessman, announced that he had raised $2.5 million in the fourth quarter, including $450,000 of his own money. Republicans also expect Rep. Matt Rosendale, a far-right agitator, to enter the race soon.

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In Ohio, Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat also seeking a fourth term, raised $6.6 million in the fourth quarter and had $14.6 million on hand, according to his campaign.

Among the top three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination in Ohio, Bernie Moreno, a businessman known for his chain of car dealerships in the state, collected 800 $300 during the fourth quarter and ended the year with about $2 million in cash, according to its filing. Mr. Moreno, who was endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, spent $3 million on his own campaign last year and added another seven-figure check this month, according to a person close to him of the file who was not authorized to speak publicly. .

Another Republican candidate, state Sen. Matt Dolan, raised $357,700 during the fourth quarter and started the new year with $4.8 million on hand, according to its reports. The third major GOP candidate, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, collected $812,500 during the fourth quarter and started the new year with $771,600 in the bank, according to its fillings.

However, much of the suspense in the fight for the Senate surrounds Ms. Sinema. Since leaving the Democratic Party in December 2022, she has remained ambiguous about her plans for a second term, keeping the political establishment on a knife’s edge.

If she runs as an independent again, changing the original schedule of her campaign, which was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal, this will spark a fascinating and unusually competitive three-way race. Otherwise, it will close one of the most eventful and colorful chapters in recent Senate history.

Although Ms. Sinema has remained cautious about her intentions, Mr. Gallego and Ms. Lake both launched aggressive campaigns last year, but still have a significant catching up to do with Ms. Sinema on fundraising.

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Mr. Gallego had one of the highest fundraising hauls of any nonincumbent Senate candidate last year. But his campaign has already spent half that total without airing a single TV ad. This is Mr. Gallego’s first statewide campaign, and he is still relatively unknown to many voters.

Ms. Lake, for her part, announced that she had collected $2.2 million during her first term as a candidate. Compared to other Republicans running for Senate in battleground states, her total was relatively low: David McCormick, a former Republican hedge fund executive who announced his campaign for Senate in Pennsylvania in September, about three weeks before Ms. Lake is not launching his candidacy in Arizona. , raised $5.5 million, including $1 million of his own money. Mr. McCormick had $4.2 million in the bank at the end of the year.

Ms. Lake’s fourth-quarter total was roughly comparable to that of Sam Brown, a retired Army captain and Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, who raised $1.85 million in the fourth quarter of 2023 for his attempt to unseat the incumbent Democrat, Senator Jacky. Rosen.

Mr. Brown and Mr. McCormick are both trying to unseat incumbents with large war chests for the coming year.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Senator Bob Casey announced that he had raised $3.6 million during the same period. His campaign had not yet indicated how much he had in the bank, but he had $7.4 million available September 30.

In Nevada, Ms. Rosen announced that she had raised $3.2 million in the final three months of last year and had started 2024 with $10.6 million available.