Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel has offered to make a multimillion-dollar contribution to the effort to elect Republican Blake Masters to the U.S. Senate in Arizona if the Mitch McConnell-led Senate Leadership Fund will match his support, Axios reported on Wednesday.
Thiel has made waves in recent years through his outspoken support for former President Donald Trump. He endorsed Trump in 2016, praising him as a harbinger of “a new American politics that overcomes denial, rejects bubble thinking, and reckons with reality.”
Masters, who previously served as chief operating officer of Thiel’s venture capital firm and president of Thiel’s personal foundation, is attempting to unseat incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D), with the election just under four weeks away.
The Arizona race has been a significant point of contention between Thiel and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as McConnell has repeatedly pressured Thiel to devote his personal resources to the race.
The dynamic between Thiel and McConnell was further complicated by the victory of J.D. Vance, another Thiel associate, in the Ohio Senate primary. “McConnell told Thiel over the phone last week that Vance’s race in Ohio was proving more costly for the Senate Leadership Fund than anticipated, that money was not unlimited and that there was a need for the billionaire to ‘come in, in a big way, in Arizona,” the Washington Post reported in late August.
According to Axios, Thiel has already spent $15 million on the Arizona race — to say nothing of his spending in Ohio and other states — even as the Senate Leadership Fund has canceled $9.6 million in ad buys meant to support Masters. The GOP’s needs in Arizona have been made more urgent by Kelly’s large war chest, the incumbent senator having raised $52 million by June, according to the AZ Mirror.
Some observers have ascribed McConnell’s dynamic with Masters to remarks the candidate has made about his plans for a potential tenure in the Senate. Roll Call has quoted Masters promising that he would join a “young and dynamic America First Caucus” in the Senate, which would include such senators as Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, and depending on the outcome of the Ohio race, J.D. Vance.
Further, Masters has maintained a certain ambivalence towards McConnell, saying, “Mitch McConnell is not bad at everything. He’s good at judges. He’s good at playing defense. He’s wildly smart. He’s the master tactician, but again, he only wants to play defense. We need to go on offense.”
You can follow Michael Foster on Twitter at @realmfoster.