Oct 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Last-minute millions arrive for Arizona's Blake Masters

A close-up of Republican Arizona Senate nominee Blake Masters with a microphone speaking at a campaign rally.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Millions of last-minute dollars are flooding into Arizona to prop up Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters, after a key group aligned with GOP Leader Mitch McConnell decided against helping him in the race.

Driving the news: The Club for Growth, a leading conservative outside spender, is dropping $5.5 million into the Arizona Senate race in its closing days.

  • That substantial sum — dumped largely into TV ads this week and next — was prompted by recent private polling showing Masters closing on incumbent Mark Kelly (D) in a race that could help determine control of the upper chamber.
  • The Club's cash infusion, and significant spending by other deep-pocketed GOP allies including tech billionaire Peter Thiel, is helping to fill a void left by Republicans' top Senate super PAC, which has no plans to spend on Masters' behalf in the final days of the race.

Details: The Club's ad, which began airing in English and Spanish on Tuesday, focuses on inflation.

  • Kelly, it says, supports Biden administration policies "causing prices in Arizona to boil higher than almost any other state."

What they're saying: Club for Growth president David McIntosh told Axios in an interview that Masters' negatives "had already been out there for months, but Kelly had been left untouched."

  • "So we decided we could spend money telling people about Kelly, raising his negatives, connecting him with Biden, and that would help Blake and give him a chance to win."

The big picture: The Club's substantial ad buy complements a flood of Republican outside money into the race in recent weeks.

  • Saving Arizona, a super PAC largely financed by Thiel, kicked off a $3.7 million ad campaign this week, following a $2.5 million donation from Thiel earlier this month.
  • Thiel played an outsized role in funding Masters through his primary, spending $15 million to help him get across the line, along with Trump's endorsement.
  • A political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation has spent more than $7 million on backing Masters and attacking Kelly since last month.

Reality check: Senate GOP leaders, including McConnell, considered Masters a lackluster candidate who would have a hard time winning a general election even in an environment tilted heavily toward Republicans.

The other side: In a statement, Kelly spokesperson Sarah Guggenheimer touted his work on manufacturing, energy production and drug price reforms. "No lies from a Super PAC will distort what Arizonans know to be true: Senator Kelly, unlike Blake Masters, will always have their backs," she wrote.

The bottom line: The GOP's late investment in Arizona opens up another path for them to win the majority. If Republicans hold the races in states Trump won, they would only need to win one of four toss-up races.

  • Editor's note: This version adds a statement from Kelly's campaign.
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