PHOENIX – Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema reported raising just over $2.1 million in her first full fundraising quarter since leaving the Democratic Party, a smaller haul than the $3.7 million raised by Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is hoping to win her seat in 2024.
Sinema, who has not said whether she will seek a second term, still had a formidable $10 million in her bank account at the end of March, including money she’s raised in the four years since her last campaign. Gallego had $2.7 million at the end of the quarter.
The senator's fundraising is closely watched for clues about her plans and how she might finance a difficult three-way race as an independent. Sinema and her aides insist she is focused on her job as a senator and isn’t thinking about a potential reelection campaign.
The Arizona Senate race is one of a handful that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate in 2024. Democrats currently have a 51-49 edge and face a tough path to maintaining their majority.
Sinema won the seat by less than 3 percentage points in 2018. Her fellow Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly was re-elected last November by almost 5 percentage points. But those races did not feature significant third-party or independent contenders. Both major parties agree a three-way contest would be a tossup.
If Sinema runs, the sources of her money will be scrutinized because because of her longstanding relationships on Wall Street, which have infuriated many Democrats who say she protects powerful interests.
In the latest fundraising period, more than a quarter of her money came from people who work for three private equity firms, which benefited from Sinema’s move to singlehandedly thwart her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors.
Less than $6,000 was from small donors who gave less than $200.
More than half of Sinema’s first-quarter donors gave the $3,300 maximum for the election, Gallego spokesperson Rebecca Katz noted in a state-of-the-race memo on Monday. That means Sinema cannot tap those donors for additional money going forward.
“Her big-money donors may be able to keep her afloat for now, but in the long run, Sinema’s fundraising strategy is unsustainable,” Katz wrote.
A spokesperson for Sinema said the senator remained focused on finding solutions, not on politics.
Gallego is the only Democrat in the race and is unlikely to face serious primary opposition after other potential candidates declined to run. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, a Republican, announced a campaign last week and has not yet had to report fundraising data.
Gallego spent $2.3 million, about two-thirds of it on fundraising services, a relatively high rate of spending that campaign officials hope will later pay off as small donors continue contributing. Sinema spent just over $400,000 during the period.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Rebecca Katz's last name in one reference.