Rep. Greg Stanton says he won't be running in Arizona's 2024 Senate race
The former Phoenix mayor was a potential challenger to Rep. Ruben Gallego's expected run for Democrats, who are seeking to retake the seat held by independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Rep. Greg Stanton announced Thursday he will not run for the U.S. Senate in 2024 in a move that could avert a costly primary battle for Democrats if the party, as expected, seeks to retake the seat held by independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Stanton, D-Ariz., posted his decision in a tweet that brings a measure of clarity to the 2024 race that could turn into a historic three-way contest featuring an independent incumbent with challengers from both major parties.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., has long telegraphed his intention to run in 2024, even before Sinema announced in The Arizona Republic in December that she was switching from a Democrat to an independent. He has, for example, started assembling a campaign team for such a run.
Stanton, a former Phoenix mayor who is in his third term in Washington, responded to Sinema's decision by posting on social media polling that suggested he had been exploring a bid of his own against Sinema. On Thursday, Stanton pulled himself out of the running.
"After a great deal of consideration and talking through the ins and outs of a Senate race with my family, I've made the decision that now is not the right time for me to run," Stanton wrote.
Sinema declined to comment. She hasn't formally announced she plans to seek a second six-year term, but has filed preliminary paperwork to do so.
In a tweet of his own, Gallego said Stanton "is a great public servant. Proud to call him a partner in serving AZ families."
Arizona's 2024 Senate race is already shaping up once again as one of the nation's most important for determining control of the chamber and could feature a rare, three-way contest.
Gallego, who is in his fifth term in the House of Representatives, has for months deferred his 2024 plans until this year, but has not yet formally declared himself a Senate candidate.
Several Republicans are considering a run as well, but no high-profile contenders have stepped forward yet.
For Democrats, Stanton's decision removes perhaps the most viable hurdle for Gallego to win the party's nomination. Stanton has been a reliable vote for Democratic priorities in the House during his time in Washington.
Arizona's relatively late August primary has frustrated Republicans in recent years, as Democrats snapped a 30-year drought in Senate races beginning with Sinema's 2018 victory followed by Sen. Mark Kelly's consecutives wins in 2020 and 2022. Sinema faced nominal primary competition in 2018 and Kelly had none in his runs.
Republicans, meanwhile, endured protracted primary campaigns that cost money that might have gone to challenge the Democrats and left some in the GOP divided entering the general elections.
Andy Barr, a Democratic consultant, said Stanton's decision helps preserve needed party resources to help make the case against Sinema, and leaves Stanton well-positioned as the next Democrat when a high-profile opening comes.
"Now that Ruben's going to take his shot, and whether he wins or loses, Greg is going to be the next person up, or at least the next obvious person up," Barr said. "Greg is not going to have an equal the next time he runs."
It also means Democrats may avoid a primary, allowing them to focus on preserving their voting base.
"Democrats are going to need to fully understand what Sinema did," Barr said. "To win statewide, we're still going to need 90% of the Democratic vote. We're going to need to educate voters to abandon Sinema. That's going to take some time."
Stanton acknowledged his decision wouldn't be popular with all his supporters.
"I'm incredibly grateful to all of those who have encouraged me over the past few months — and I hope this decision does not disappoint you," he said in his statement.
"I have one of the greatest jobs I could ever have imagined: serving Arizona in the United States Congress, and I'm excited to continue to work to create good jobs in our community, secure our water future, grow our infrastructure, and improve the lives of the people I represent. And I'll never stop looking for opportunities to fight for Arizona."