Thune urges Sinema to caucus with GOP to avoid three-way reelection race
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), one of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (Ariz.) best friends in the chamber, is urging the newly declared Independent lawmaker to caucus with Senate Republicans, which he suggested could help avoid a three-way race for her seat in 2024.
“We’ll see. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said when asked whether he would support an Arizona Republican who runs against Sinema, noting that “a lot of Republicans [are] talking about it.”
“Obviously we’d love to have her become a Republican or at least caucus [with] Republicans. That would make things a little more clear,” he said.
Thune and other Republicans have urged Sinema, who has worked closely with GOP colleagues on issues ranging from infrastructure to taxes and gun violence, on prior occasions to join their conference but without success.
Sinema made it clear when she announced in December that she would register as an Independent that she would not caucus with Republicans. She hasn’t said if she’ll run for a second term.
Thune made his comments Monday afternoon when pressed by reporters about whether he would support the Republican nominee in next year’s Arizona Senate race if his good friend Sinema is also on the ballot.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) earlier on Monday formally announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for Sinema’s Senate seat, which would set up a three-way general election race if Sinema runs as an Independent and Republicans also put up a nominee.
Sinema opened the door to a three-way race in December when she decided to leave the Democratic Party, declaring that Washington has become too divided by partisan politics.
Senate Democrats on Monday also dodged questions about whether they would support Sinema’s reelection bid if she winds up in a race against Gallego or another Democratic nominee.
“Too soon. Too soon,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.).
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Gary Peters (Mich.) on Monday acknowledged that Gallego is running but did not say whether he would endorse him or another Democrat against Sinema.
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