Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters has no shortage of uber-rich friends, a result of his years working with wealthy Silicon Valley bros — like billionaire right-winger Peter Thiel — who’ve gotten fat off the tech industry.
Given that, you’d think Masters’ campaign would be flush with cash from donors eager to fund someone who’s their ideological kin. But that isn’t the case. And in a sign of widespread disbelief in his campaign, recent reports indicate GOP donors have been passing the bill on funding Masters’ quest to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
Last month, I wrote about the National Republican Senatorial Committee drastically cutting its ad spending this fall for Masters and other GOP Senate candidates who’ve struggled to gain traction. The list also included Donald Trump-backed Senate candidates Ron Johnson in Wisconsin and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania.
Since then, things have only gotten worse for Masters. In recent weeks, as his poll numbers have remained stubbornly low, he and his campaign have wiped information about his stances on abortion and the 2020 presidential election from his website, and he has leaned into racist, right-wing rhetoric in the months before Election Day.
That’s not helping him gain votes or donors at this critical juncture in his campaign — a campaign that could determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. The Washington Post reported last week that Masters’ billionaire buddy Thiel and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have been going back and forth, haggling over who ought to fund Masters’ campaign.
According to the Post, those talks were immediately followed by a super PAC run by a McConnell associate, Stephen Law, canceling $8 million in ad buys for Masters. In other words: an already skeptical McConnell and his guy didn’t get what they wanted and quickly hedged their bets on Masters.
Here’s the Post’s breakdown of the negotiations:
The message from McConnell and Law, according to people with knowledge of their pitch, was that they should essentially split the cost, with Thiel cutting a check to their super PAC matching whatever funds they put behind Masters. Another option, these people said, was that the Thiel-funded super PAC could take over the ad reservations initially made by the McConnell-linked group.
Thiel indicated to them that he was not interested in such arrangements — a posture, say people around the venture capitalist, that is informed by his approach of investing early and a belief that any more of his money would be used as a Democratic talking point[.]
The Post reported that Thiel is still planning to host fundraisers for Masters — but it’s notable that he’s looking for other people to give Masters money and apparently reluctant to give up his own. And it’s a pretty bad sign when two bigwigs invested in your success start to cut off their support. It’s kind of like flunking in college and having your parents stop paying your tuition.
Or, to use a better metaphor: Look at this kind of like a platoon rationing its food supply in preparation for battle. In this case, the GOP’s big spenders are giving support to the people they think will be viable come November. Masters and his campaign are being massively out-fundraised, and as it stands, there’s no one in the party coming to their rescue. For now, they’re in the cold with their hands cupped and arms extended. Hoping for a hero.