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AZ Republicans plead with Mitch McConnell to spend millions of dollars to help Blake Masters
Blake Masters in January 2022. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
The Republican Party of Arizona is begging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to put his weight — and his leadership committee’s wallet — behind U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters.
So far, McConnell has not publicly done so.
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Masters, who won former President Donald Trump’s endorsement over the summer and rode it to victory in a crowded primary election field, is in a tight contest with his Democratic opponent, incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly. The Arizona Republican Party believes that support from the Senate Leadership Fund, which McConnell controls, could give Masters the edge he needs to win.
At one time, Masters was trailing Kelly by as many as 12 percentage points, but an Emerson College poll released last week put Masters only two percentage points behind Kelly.
But Masters is lagging far behind Kelly when it comes to fundraising, so the Arizona Republican Party is looking to McConnell for help.
“It is clear Masters is within striking distance,” the party said in the letter. “However, Sen. Kelly has a war chest of $25 million cash on hand and has cultivated a smear campaign against Masters, reaching every inch of Arizona digitally and geographically.”
While Kelly has called Masters a dangerous conservative fringe candidate, Masters has questioned Kelly’s description of himself as a moderate, since he often toes the Democratic Party line.
As of the end of June, the Kelly campaign had raised around $55 million while the Masters campaign reported raising around $5 million, according to the Associated Press.
“We believe if you were to shore up your support of Blake Masters publicly and financially, you would help him fend off the attacks, defeat Mark Kelly, and return the Arizona Senate seat into Republican hands,” the Arizona Republican Party wrote in its letter.
The letter was signed by Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, along with the chairs of the party in each of Arizona’s 15 counties.
Ahead of the primary, Masters did not speak highly of McConnell, saying that the minority leader should be replaced and that McConnell was not good at legislating.
But since winning his primary, Masters has changed his tune, saying he’s hopeful for McConnell’s support, while admitting that he’s “not Mitch McConnell’s favorite candidate.”
Masters made that comment in August, shortly after McConnell questioned the caliber of some of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” McConnell said, as reported by the Associated Press.
Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with McConnell, nixed around $8 million in advertising reservations in Arizona last month. After that, multiple outlets reported that McConnell was in talks with Peter Thiel, who put more than $13 million behind Masters through the Saving Arizona PAC in the primary, to provide financial support in the general election as well.
The billionaire Thiel was the cofounder of PayPal and is Masters’ former boss.
Despite not receiving financial support from Thiel so far in the general election, Saving Arizona PAC recently announced it was again spending to promote Masters.
Sentinel Action Fund, a super PAC with ties to the conservative group Heritage Action, also announced this week that it plans to spend at least $5 million to promote the Masters campaign this fall, Politico reported.
The Kelly Campaign, the Arizona Republican Party and McConnell all either didn’t respond or declined to comment for this article.
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