GOP insiders fear MAGA Republicans will doom their Arizona Senate prospects in 2024: report
Kari Lake on Twitter.

Democratic strategists have been expressing their concerns about Arizona’s 2024 U.S. Senate race, fearing that if Sen. Kyrsten Sinema seeks reelection as an independent, a split between Sinema and liberal Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego among voters could give the GOP nominee — whoever that turns out to be — an advantage. Gallego’s recent announcement that he is seeking the Democratic nomination in that race was well-received by his party’s liberals and progressives; Gallego’s Senate campaign said it raised more $1 million in a single day.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, GOP insiders have their own worries about that Senate race. According to Politico reporters Holly Otterbein, Burgess Everett and Ally Mutnick, Republicans in Arizona fear that the Republican nominee in that race could be, if they run, either Kari Lake or Blake Masters — both of whom were among the hyper-MAGA Republicans who lost in the 2022 midterms.

Politically, Arizona has changed a great deal in recent years. Once a deep red state, Arizona was, for decades, synonymous with Goldwater conservatism — as in Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, Sen. John McCain (a self-described “Goldwater conservative” or “Goldwater Republican”). Goldwater suffered a landslide defeat when incumbent Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, empowered in part by the infamous “daisy ad,” crushed him in the 1964 presidential election. But in Arizona, Goldwater was a conservative rock star. And his influence on right-wing Arizona politics remained long after he left the U.S. Senate.

Goldwater was considered arch-conservative in his day. But by far-right MAGA standards, the late senator would be considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only). And the MAGA movement didn’t fare well in Arizona in 2022, when Lake lost to Democratic now-Gov. Katie Hobbs and Masters lost to incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (who now sits in the Senate seat once held by Goldwater and later, McCain).

Republican strategists were hoping that a Sinema/Gallego split among voters — assuming Sinema seeks reelection — would give them a good shot at retaking that Senate seat. But now, according to Otterbein, Everett and Mutnick, they fear that Lake or Masters could doom their hopes.

“The possibility of Lake and Masters entering the political waters once more is complicating the newfound optimism GOP officials felt about capitalizing on Sinema’s recent party switch to independent,” the Politico reporters explain in an article published on February 1. “With Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego already in the race, Republicans see a prime opportunity to win the election with a plurality of the vote. Now, there are new fears that they’d fumble the opportunity by putting forth a candidate who remains aligned with former President Donald Trump or fixated on election denialism.”

Barrett Marson, an Arizona-based Republican strategist, isn’t bullish on either Lake or Masters as a possible Senate candidate.

Marson told Politico, “Just look at what happened in the last two elections. You in no way have to guess what happens when MAGA candidates ignore bread-and-butter issues that Arizonans care about. Kari Lake is not governor. Blake Masters is not senator. Republicans have to get back to basics.”

Nor is Senate Minority Whip John Thune excited about the prospect of either Lake or Masters running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sinema.

The South Dakota Republican told Politico, “Any candidate in ’24 that has, as their principal campaign theme, a stolen election, is probably going to have the same issues that some of the ’22 candidates had. I just don’t think that’s where the American public is. It’s a swing state — we need to have a good Republican nominee, obviously. You know, whoever gets in, I hope they focus on the future, not the past.”