Which Republicans will run for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's seat? What we know

A possible three-way Senate race has only Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego running so far. That could change soon as Republicans eye a tempting target.

Ronald J. Hansen
Arizona Republic

Nearly three full months into a political cycle that could offer a historic, three-way race for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat next year, not a single prominent Republican has entered a contest many think they could win.

It’s not because they aren’t thinking about it.

Kari Lake, the former Fox 10 news anchor who lost her gubernatorial run last year, seems to have cast the longest shadow over the potential field. Some have clamored for freshman U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R-Ariz., to join the expected fray.

The seat is held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., who quit the Democratic Party after the midterm elections. She has filed the paperwork necessary to run for a second term but has not officially said she will do so.

For the moment, U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., stands as the only prominent candidate in the race.

Here’s how the potential field stacks up at the moment, according to Republican campaign operatives.

Everybody is wondering about Kari Lake's Senate intentions

Kari Lake, former Republican candidate for Arizona governor, speaks during a lunch hosted by the Scott County Republican Women on Feb. 10, 2023, in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Lake is the presumed frontrunner for the GOP nomination, mostly because last year she won the statewide Republican governor's primary. But she hasn’t clarified her political future.

Lake is holding firm to a lawsuit seeking to reverse her narrow loss to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs. Last week the Arizona Supreme Court dropped six of her seven claims of election fraud. The high court allowed one claim to stand for consideration in a lower court.

It keeps Lake’s gubernatorial aspirations nominally alive for a while longer and can’t hurt her grievance-centered political brand while she waits it out.

Lake may see herself as a possible running mate for former President Donald Trump, who, for the moment anyway, still seems like the candidate to beat for the GOP presidential nomination next year even as he faces the possibility of criminal indictments. Lake has visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago and is among Trump’s most ardent supporters.

But among other prominent Republican women whom Trump could tap as a vice presidential nominee – such as Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. – Lake is the only one with no elective or governmental experience. 

Lake is making some political waves on the federal side.

She prominently attended the National Prayer Breakfast in February as a guest of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. A month later, she gave the keynote address at a dinner at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Last week, she released a written statement slamming Gallego for his work a decade ago trying to create a bank focused on helping immigrants.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb has made moves for a Senate run

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb speaks to Trump supporters before Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a rally at TYR Tactical in Peoria on Oct. 8, 2020.

While Lake is perhaps the most prominent potential candidate, others could give the race a different look.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is considered by many GOP insiders a lock to run.

He has forged a national following with numerous TV appearances, a pair of books on his values and his outspoken support for unfettered gun rights.

In February, Lamb testified before the House Homeland Security Committee in Washington about the hazards posed by fentanyl and human trafficking in his community. He did so in uniform, complete with a cowboy hat to cut the image of Western law and order.

At the hearing, Lamb distanced himself from those claiming widespread fraud in the 2020 election, suggesting at least one key difference from Lake. Asked whether significant fraud happened in the 2020 elections, Lamb said, “As a law enforcement official, I have seen zero evidence that would show me that there was.”

Will 2022 GOP rivals Blake Masters and Jim Lamon return for 2024 run?

Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters speaks at a Kari Lake campaign event at Social Tap.

Two others considering a 2024 run are veterans of the 2022 Senate race.

Blake Masters, the 2022 GOP nominee, and businessperson Jim Lamon were the top Republican contenders for the Senate race eventually won by Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. Masters' fate could be tied to whether Lake enters the race.

Masters moved from the middle of the GOP field in 2022 to the top after securing Trump’s all-important endorsement. But Lake may have been Trump’s favorite political apprentice in 2022, suggesting a difficult path for Masters to the GOP nomination if Lake runs.

Lamon built his 2022 Senate run around winning Trump’s endorsement, which instead went to Masters. Lamon spent $18 million of his own money — plus hundreds of thousands more to boost the state Republican Party — only to finish second.

Jeff DeWit, an ally of his 2022 Senate candidacy, now heads the state GOP. But Lamon has shown an interest in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is all but declared as a presidential candidate and could be more involved in that race.

What about Karrin Taylor Robson? Juan Ciscomani? Doug Ducey?

Businessperson Karrin Taylor Robson last year finished a close second to Lake in the GOP gubernatorial primary, and she might have pulled in more support if former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., had quit the race earlier.

Taylor Robson would bring considerable personal wealth to the race and could present herself as an electable alternative for Republicans after voters opted for Democrats in Arizona’s top statewide races in 2022.

Money can’t be overlooked as a consideration, especially after Masters proved an abysmal fundraiser. Taylor Robson has met recently with the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

GOP insiders question whether Taylor Robson wants to add regular cross-country travel to her schedule to be one of 100 senators. Instead, they say, she may be more inclined to run for governor again in 2026.

Ciscomani told The Republic recently that he was still learning his way around the U.S. Capitol as a freshman in the House and denied an interest in running for the Senate next year. Others have said he, too, could be a 2026 gubernatorial contender.

If there is anyone who seems out of the running, it is former Gov. Doug Ducey, who passed on joining the Senate four times in the past six years.