Staunchly anti-abortion candidate Lake is facing off against Gallego, who supports abortion rights for women. Lake steered the debate towards a personal attack on his character, repeatedly appearing to suggest that Gallego didn’t care about women or babies because he “left his wife when she was nine months pregnant.”
The spat between the pair, who are both vying to represent Arizona and replace current independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, follows Lake’s failed bid to become the state’s governor last year. She lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, but refused to concede and launched a string of legal attempts to have the results overturned in her favor.
The lawsuits were ultimately rejected by the courts. Undeterred, Lake announced last week that she is now seeking election into the U.S. Senate and she has been backed by former President Donald Trump, who is himself the Republican frontrunner ahead of next year’s presidential elections, despite having a string of legal woes. The issue of abortion rights has become a key election battleground at all levels of the political system.
The swipes between Lake and Gallego began to unfold on Saturday, after Gallego, a former U.S. Marine who now represents Arizona’s third congressional district, posted an image of Lake on X (formerly known as Twitter) with some quotes attributed to her.
He didn’t state where the quotes came from, but the image suggested Lake had said she planned for Arizona to be “setting course for other states to follow.” Gallego, who has almost 198,000 followers, captioned the image: “Kari Lake is ‘incredibly thrilled’ to ban abortion. She’s too dangerous for Arizona.”
In response, former news anchor Lake hit back by sharing Gallego’s post with her own caption, reading: “Ruben, you left your wife when she was 9 months pregnant. Maybe you should sit this one out.”
Newsweek has reached out to the press offices of Kari Lake and Ruben Gallego by email seeking further information and comment.
Lake continued to post similar comments on X at the weekend.
“I am the only mom in this race,” she said. “My two babies are the greatest blessings of my life. I will not be lectured on motherhood by @RubenGallego, a man who left his wife when she was nine months pregnant with his first child.”
She doubled down on her message by sharing a post from the “Kari Lake War Room” X account, alleging: “@RubenGallego left the mother of his 1st child (when she was nine months pregnant) for a DC lobbyist. He doesn’t get to lecture @KariLake about what’s good for women’s health.”
Gallego hasn’t commented on the allegations. He and his first wife, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, announced their marriage had ended late in her pregnancy in 2016. But the couple, who later had a son, didn’t share the reasons for the split, as both insisted it was a private matter and declined to comment further.
Kate Gallego did state in her announcement at the time that: “It is painful when any marriage ends, and it is not something that I ever wanted or expected.”
Ruben Gallego married Sydney Barron, a lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors in 2021, and the couple now have a daughter who was born in July.
Lake’s allegations about Gallego’s past were praised beneath her posts by some of her 1.6 million X followers. Several wrote “BURN!” approvingly, and vowed to vote for Lake, while one X user said: “That is certainly hypocritical of Ruben. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
However, others took to Lake’s comments to share a different view. One, apparently in response to her boast of being “the only mom in this race,” told her: “Uh well there a millions of Moms in Arizona who vote. I love my mom too but that’s not a main reason to vote for you.”
Several questioned the relevance of Gallego’s past and personal life to the debate, and another said: “Wow. Trump had an affair with a porn star for months while Melania was pregnant with Barron. That doesn’t seem to bother you so why would you talk about Ruben?”