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NRSC scraps more than $2 million in ads backing Blake Masters

By: - August 15, 2022 4:27 pm

Democrat Mark Kelly and Republican Blake Masters are squaring off for the Senate race in Arizona in 2022. Photos: Meg Potter/Cronkite News, Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The National Republican Senatorial Committee last week canceled months of planned television ads in Arizona and is no longer on the airwaves backing Blake Masters’ campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly.

Television stations in Phoenix have published updated advertisement reservation forms for the NRSC showing that the group, which exists solely to get more Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate, abruptly canceled planned ads as of Aug. 10. The ads were slated to run this week — between Aug. 12 and Aug. 18 — and for the first three weeks of October.

The group still has ads scheduled to air between Aug. 19 and Sept. 30, as of Monday afternoon.

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The NRSC reserved $53 million of ads nationwide earlier this summer, including several million dollars in Arizona, where defeating Kelly is a top priority if the GOP hopes to regain control of the Senate. The chamber is currently split 50-50, but Democrats control it because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tie-breaking vote.

The New York Times reported Monday that the NRSC is in the process of scrapping ads in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All three battleground states have been a focus of the NRSC’s efforts in 2022 and feature competitive Senate races. The Times said the NRSC has canceled ads in the Phoenix and Tucson media markets — the two largest in Arizona — which will save the group an estimated $2 million.

Per the Times

In a statement, Chris Hartline, the communications director for the N.R.S.C., said, “Nothing has changed about our commitment to winning in all of our target states.”

Mr. Hartline added that the committee had “been spending earlier than ever before to help our candidates get their message out and define the Democrats for their radical agenda. We’ve been creative in how we’re spending our money and will continue to make sure that every dollar spent by the N.R.S.C. is done in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

After this article was published online, Mr. Hartline called it “false” on Twitter and said that “there is money being moved from the I.E. side” — independent expenditures that cannot be coordinated with campaigns — “back to the N.R.S.C. side of the wall.”

He declined to say how much was being rebooked.

Although 2022 is poised to be a strong year for Republicans, Masters still faces an uphill climb in challenging Kelly, who was elected in a 2020 special election to fill out the final two years of the term that the late John McCain won in 2016. Kelly is a prodigious fundraiser, who has raised $54 million and had almost $25 million remaining for his reelection campaign as of mid-July. Masters, meanwhile, reported less than $1.6 million in the bank — and that was three weeks before his primary election.

Masters’ campaign has been propelled by his mentor, tech leader Peter Thiel, who has pumped $15 million into a PAC that is aimed at electing Masters.

Kelly has sought to portray himself as an independent-minded senator, though he has aligned with Democrats on key policy issues and has been a reliable vote for President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Masters, in contrast, has positioned himself far to the right. He has falsely said the 2020 election was stolen, has called for a nationwide ban on abortions, wants to privatize Social Security, thinks states should be allowed to regulate access to contraception, has pushed the baseless “great replacement” conspiracy theory narrative and has blamed gun violence in America on Black people. He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the primary.

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Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.

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