Since announcing that she was leaving the Democratic Party to become an independent, Democratic donors have fled Senator Kyrsten Sinema and she hasn’t been able to make up the loss with Republicans or independents.
In a natural extension of my service since I was first elected to Congress, I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington and formally registering as an Arizona Independent. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/jUQHAeuxym
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) December 9, 2022
Sinema has been a controversial figure in the Democratic Party and didn’t endear herself to a lot of her colleagues, especially after leaving the party.
Kyrsten Sinema gave Ron Klain a symbolic middle finger and called her Democratic colleagues “old dudes eating Jell-O” at a fundraiser with Republican donors.
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) March 23, 2023
Now, she is facing a challenge as she contemplates re-election. Without the backing of the two major parties, she will have to build a base using only her personal brand.
A POLITICO analysis of her donors in recent cycles reveals her previous contributors are more loyal to the Democratic Party than they are to Sinema. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who launched a run for Sinema’s seat in January, has raised two-and-a-half times as much from Sinema’s 2018 major donors as Sinema herself has.
Gallego has supplanted Sinema as the de facto Democratic nominee in Arizona’s Senate race — and Democratic donors are responding.
The analysis demonstrates the degree to which Sinema placed herself on a political island with her dramatic departure from the Democratic Party. To win a second term, she would have to cobble together a patchwork of independents, Democrats and Republicans — both to vote for her and fund her campaign.
“Her fundraising is somewhat dried up,” said Barrett Marson, a GOP operative in Arizona. “There isn’t an independent donor base as there is a Republican donor base and a Democratic donor base.”
Sinema raised $4.6 million in the first nine months of 2023, less than half as much as Gallego’s nearly $10 million haul. Though Sinema still has more than twice as much in the bank ($10.8 million) as Gallego, her fundraising is slowing, and much of that money was raised before she left the party. For comparison: In the first nine months of her 2018 run, which she launched in September 2017, Sinema raised $7.1 million.
But many of those 2018 donors who helped propel Sinema to the Senate do not seem eager to do so again.
Gallego raised $691,000 from Sinema’s biggest 2018 donors, while Sinema herself raised only $277,000 from that same group.