Arizona’s high-profile Senate race has not yet begun in earnest, but on Thursday, the Republican Kari Lake and Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat, were already trading barbs — in midair.
Ms. Lake, the former news anchor who refused to concede her loss in the state’s governor’s race last year, and Mr. Gallego, a progressive congressman from the state’s capitol, ended up on the same flight from Washington, D.C., to Phoenix, where they began wrangling over the border wall.
The clash happened just days after Ms. Lake filed to run for the seat, which is now held by Kyrsten Sinema. Ms. Sinema, who left the party in December to become an independent, has not said whether she is running for re-election.
Ms. Lake took a shot at Mr. Gallego on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, asking if he still believed that the border wall was “racist” and accusing him of “facilitating an invasion.”
“Hey @KariLake we’re on the same plane! Just come back from first class to coach and we can chat,” responded Mr. Gallego, who was sitting just behind the divider for business class. “Happy to walk you through all my legislative work to deliver key resources to AZ’s border communities.”
Once the plane had landed and Mr. Gallego was stepping off it, Ms. Lake ambushed him with questions, wearing a lapel mic while a phone camera recorded, according to people familiar with the exchange.
Mr. Gallego announced his bid for the seat in January. In the Republican primary, Ms. Lake will face Mark Lamb, a right-wing sheriff and an ally of former President Donald J. Trump.
Ms. Lake, a hard-right Republican, was in Washington this week meeting with several G.O.P. members of the Senate. She is scheduled to hold her first rally as a candidate next week.