Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) will step down at the end of the quarter from his job as head of Bold PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s (CHC) campaign arm, to focus on his 2024 Senate bid.
Gallego earlier this month was reelected by his peers to serve a second term at the PAC’s helm, following a strong midterm showing that brought in nine new CHC members, a record, while defending all incumbents up for reelection.
He announced his Senate bid on Monday.
“Being able to leave with the highest amount of Latino Democrats ever in Congress is something that I can be very proud of,” Gallego told The Hill.
The fifth-term Arizona congressman said he chose to keep his House seat during his Senate bid, but decided to step away from Bold PAC.
“I would love to but I always promised my Bold PAC members that they would be my top concern, my primary concern and my entire focus,” Gallego said.
“I don’t want to put at risk a lot of the successes we’ve had at Bold PAC. And while I’m going to start doing a little less here, I’m still going to be involved. But then I also have a baby girl coming soon too, which is also going to take up some of my attention.”
Gallego’s jump into the Arizona Senate race has already shifted the political center in a Southwestern state that’s transitioned from a GOP stronghold to a purple state over the last decade.
While both of Arizona’s senators were elected as Democrats, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema last year left the party and became an Independent. If she runs for reelection as an Independent — she has not announced whether she’ll run — the state will likely hold a three-way Senate race.
While Arizona is more than 30 percent Latino, the state has never had a Hispanic senator.
“We have some very good Southwest representation already, obviously, with [Sen.] Ben Ray [Luján (D-N.M.)] and with [Sen. Catherine] Cortez Masto [(D-Nev.)]. But Arizona is a different animal. I think it’d be great to kind of bring that perspective to them there,” said Gallego.
As chair of Bold PAC and having previously worked on the organization’s independent expenditure arm, Gallego has some experience in Senate races, including Cortez Masto’s wins in 2016 and 2022 and Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) 2018 race.
“What you learn is that it’s a big world when you’re dealing with Senate races. But you know, you have to still make sure you’re doing early outreach to Latinos, you have to still do a lot of consolidation with your partners to make sure they stay with us throughout the campaign,” Gallego said.
Gallego also pointed to lessons learned from House races in which Bold PAC played heavily, like the elections of first-term Reps. Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) and Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.), where Bold PAC had to go into Republican territory and moderate suburban areas to put its candidates over the top.
“Or someone like [Rep.] Andrea Salinas who, you know, really came out of nowhere, rocked it in the primary, rocked it in the general, in a suburban district that has 20 percent Latinos, but it’s, you know, a very still kind of suburban setting,” Gallego said of the Oregon Democrat.
The Salinas race in particular earned Gallego and Bold PAC points among Hispanic members and organizers, as it pitted the CHC group against Democratic leadership and a massive influx of cryptocurrency-connected donations in the primary as well as a strong self-funded Republican in the general election.
Those tough races, Gallego said, helped prepare him for the upcoming Senate fight.
“So all those lessons that we learned from our research, from our work, from our AB trials, everything else like that that we’re good at, I’m lucky to be able to bring as an experience to the Senate run,” he said.
Gallego said he doesn’t know who will replace him as Bold PAC chair, but he has no favorites.
“And I have no concerns either. This organization is very professionalized.”
Under Luján, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) and Gallego, Bold PAC has grown to become a model for other congressional caucus-based campaign organizations.
Its growth has pushed up CHC numbers in general, including in the Senate, where Gallego hopes to become the fifth Democratic Latino serving.
But while Bold PAC has helped grow the CHC’s Senate footprint, Hispanic senators have for the most part stayed out of the group’s leadership, leaving it to House members.
“In terms of CHC leadership from the Senate or Bold PAC leadership from the Senate, I think we have a lot of great people and maybe they’d want to be able to do that. I can only predict what I’m gonna do, which is I’m gonna win this race. And then after that, I’ll start making decisions,” Gallego said.