Ruben Gallego Ditches Progressive Caucus Ahead of Tough Senate Race

The Arizona Democrat once touted himself as a 'true progressive voice in Congress'

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) attends a press conference on June 30, 2020, on Capitol Hill (Getty Images)
March 7, 2024

Arizona Senate candidate Ruben Gallego, who once touted himself as a "true progressive voice in Congress," has quietly disassociated from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The Democratic congressman quit the 104-member caucus at the end of last year, and removed references to his membership from his campaign website this week, Politico reported. Gallego told Axios he quit because dues for the caucus "went up."

But membership in the caucus could have another cost for the House Democrat in a purple state that historically eschews left-wing politics. "Gallego is a liberal, I mean an extreme liberal in a state that’s a John McCain conservative state," Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) told Politico. Following Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I., Ariz.) announcement this week that she will not seek reelection, Gallego is set to face off against Republican challenger Kari Lake.

The progressive caucus counts all members of the left-wing "Squad" on its roster, and is led by two of Congress’s most anti-Israel members—Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.). New York Democratic Reps. Ritchie Torres and Lois Frankel quit the caucus last year over its leaders’ anti-Israel views. California Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D.) recently left the group, claiming, like Gallego, it was due to an increase in membership dues.

Gallego has shifted to the center on a host of policy issues since launching his Senate bid. A longtime advocate of relaxed immigration policies, Gallego bucked the Biden administration in November when he said the historic surge of illegal immigrants has created a "crisis" at the southern border.

It’s a stark turnaround for a lawmaker who, at a rally for democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), called for a "progressive wall" of resistance against former president Donald Trump.

During his 2022 campaign, Gallego called himself a "true progressive voice in Congress" and solicited contributions to "create an unbeatable progressive movement."

"Ruben campaigns as a progressive," his campaign said in a June 2022 fundraising pitch. In 2016, he urged voters "to elect the most progressive Congress and Senate." He said Arizona is "more progressive than it shows," but lamented that "our politics and politicians haven’t followed that track."

Gallego may not have always been a good fit for the caucus, which claims it stands against "corporate interests." Gallego is married to a top lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors, the largest trade group for landlords and real estate developers in the country. Gallego has voted for 38 bills on which his wife has lobbied since 2019, the Washington Free Beacon reported.