PHOENIX — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has not yet said whether she will seek re-election in 2024. But the Democrat-turned-independence is vocal about the major border deal he is trying to negotiate with potential rival Sinema.
Republican Kari Lake strongly opposes it. Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego said a bipartisan compromise is a good idea and used the proposal as an opportunity to take a shot at former President Donald Trump, who opposes the idea and has been closely associated with Lake since his recent entry into politics. years.
Full details of the bill to reduce migrant crossings and overhaul the asylum system have yet to be released. But the battle lines being drawn in Arizona show the dynamics of a potentially three-way Senate race there in the fall.
Lake, a longtime Trump aide and MAGA star who lost his 2022 gubernatorial bid, didn’t mince his words when talking about the bill in Phoenix over the weekend.
“He’s making the worst border legislation I’ve ever heard,” Lake said of Sinema.
“He wants to grant citizenship in Arizona to nearly 2 million people who have crossed our border illegally,” Lake continued, although a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants was off the table in those talks. “There is nothing in the legislation that will stop the fentanyl that is killing our children from being dumped on us.”
Lake also called the proposal to tie Ukraine aid to a border deal “disgusting.”
“This is a despicable plan to give Ukraine more hard-earned tax dollars and not stop people from crossing the road,” Lake said.
Gallego, a five-term Democratic member of the House of Representatives who is also running for the Senate Senate seat, took a more favorable view of the deal and called for compromise between Republicans and Democrats to achieve common goals.
“We need to have good compromises that bring border security and funding to Ukraine,” said Gallego, who has made clear his support for the deal.
But he was not convinced that the border security agreement and the Ukraine aid package should be linked.
“Heck, I don’t think they need to be tied up,” Gallego said. “We need to have more border security to prevent the flow of asylum seekers across the border. “We should fund Ukraine because it is a free democratic country that opposes one of America’s mortal enemies.”
Last week, like other members of both parties, Gallego said Trump’s opposition to the deal was purely political.
“It’s a very spiteful act,” he said. “He doesn’t want to support border reform because obviously that takes away one of the only issues he can talk about.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. and James Lankford, R-Okla., said the bipartisan package they drafted with Sinema could fail in the face of opposition from Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.
At a rally in Las Vegas on Saturday, Trump made his disdain for the bill clear, saying, “I’d rather have no bill than have a bad bill.” Johnson, meanwhile, said President Joe Biden already has other enforcement tools at his disposal to deal with border crossings, and he called provisions of the Senate bill reportedly “dead on arrival” in the House.
Lake’s and Gallego’s different approaches to interpreting the Sinema deal may be emblematic of their broader campaign strategies in 2024. “I welcome the race with him,” Lake said of Sinema.
Gallego has been a major critic of Cinema in the past. But at a town hall in Scottsdale on Saturday afternoon, he took a more conciliatory approach, in keeping with his pro-compromise rhetoric on the border.
“For Kyrsten Sinema, if she stays home, we’re not going to go out there and trash her,” Gallego told about 100 Arizonans at a town hall.
Instead, he argued that Lake’s supporters should support him to minimize his chances of being elected.
“What we’re going to do is remind them that a vote for Kyrsten is probably a vote for Kari Lake,” Gallego said.