WASHINGTON — The Senate Republican campaign arm is taking aim at centrist Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., in a new attack ad launched Monday as she continues to mull a re-election bid in 2024.
The spot labels Sinema a “liberal Democrat” and ties her to President Joe Biden, a sign that the GOP remains nervous that the Democrat-turned-independent could win more votes from Arizona Republicans than Democrats if she pursues a second term.
“Sinema voted for President Biden’s agenda 100% of the time, backed Biden’s green energy bill, even helped pass Biden’s American Rescue Plan,” a narrator says.
It’s a five-figure digital ad buy that will run in Arizona, said a spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The ad signals the GOP’s coming strategy to try and weaken Sinema with Arizona Republicans ahead of the key Senate contest, as she continues to avoid questions about whether she’ll be a candidate. Sinema has a warm relationship with numerous GOP senators and has been praised by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as “the most effective first-term senator I’ve seen in my time in the Senate.”
Sinema, who was elected to the Senate in 2018 as a Democrat, quit the party last December. Although Sinema votes in alignment with Biden 94% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, that statistic obscures the extent to which she has been an obstacle for the president, as she has succeeded at quietly killing some of his priorities and preventing them from coming to a vote. She also forced Democrats to scale back the Inflation Reduction Act by objecting to higher corporate taxes and insisting on preserving the carried interest tax break. And she voted to protect the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., which led to Republicans filibustering a sweeping voting-rights bill. She has also objected to some of Biden’s personnel picks.
The NRSC ad says Arizonans “deserve a better senator” than both Sinema and the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Ruben Gallego, whom the narrator calls “rotten” while highlighting his divorce from his ex-wife in 2017, with whom he has a son, and remarriage in 2021.
Gallego’s campaign responded in a fundraising email, accusing the NRSC of launching a “baseless, deeply personal attack ad against Ruben,” and calling it “a dangerous moment” for the campaign if Democrats enable Lake to “get the edge on us,” before asking for a donation.
A spokesperson for Sinema had no comment on the ad.
A recent NRSC poll of a three-way Arizona race found that Gallego leads with 41%, ahead of Republican candidate and former gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, who had 37%, and Sinema with 17% in a distant third. The survey found that Sinema pulls more votes from Lake — a Donald Trump-endorsed election denier — than Gallego if she’s in the mix.
NRSC Chair Steve Daines, R-Mont., told NBC News in a recent interview that it’s “a margin of error poll,” but argued that it makes clear that Sinema cannot win in Arizona as an independent.
“It just shows that there’s a difficult path for an independent to win the election. … An independent lane in Arizona is consistently polling below 20%,” Daines said. “There’s not a path to win.”
David Bergstein, the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the new ad shows that the GOP is spooked about Lake’s prospects.
“What this strategy confirms is that Kari Lake is Senate Republicans’ nightmare candidate and that she has them terrified about their chances in Arizona,” Bergstein said.