Arizona: Blake Masters Still Has A Chance...
But Only If His Rumored Ex-Lover Spends Another $60 Million On The Race
Even though Arizona is a traditionally Republican state, the Cook Report had rated the Senate race between Mark Kelly (D) and Blake Masters (R) a tossup— until last week when they moved it into the “leans Democrat” column. Jessica Taylor chalks it up to fundraising. “Kelly,” she wrote, “fresh off winning a special election in 2020, really never stopped running— or, crucially, fundraising. He has raised more than $54 million in total for his campaign, and ended mid-July with nearly $25 million still in the bank. Meanwhile, the newly-minted GOP nominee had only raised just under $5 million for the whole cycle. Republicans say Masters has picked up fundraising after he emerged from the August primary, but it is all but impossible for him to catch up to Kelly in the cash dash. And if we use the old adage “follow the money,” it is clear that major outside groups are focusing their manpower elsewhere.”
“Elsewhere”— as in Republicans are giving up on the Arizona race. Chris Cillizza used a more neutral term to describe how one of the worst GOP candidates is blowing it: the race is slipping away from Republicans. “Republicans’ chances of beating Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona are,” he reported, “fading.” McConnell’s SuperPAC withdrew almost $10 million slated for Arizona and moved it to states where the GOP feels they have a better chance— like New Hampshire, where they have no chance at all and where Maggie’s Hassan is leading crackpot insurrectionist Don Bolduc by over 7 points. This is what Google News fed people yesterday who looked for “Blake Masters.” Just brutal:
Writing for The Hill yesterday, Al Weaver noted other shortcomings besides the money, reporting that the “Peter Thiel protégé-turned-politician” is drowning in “and endless stream” of negative ads, which has “left a sour taste in the mouths of Arizona Republicans as a number of key strategists see the race slipping away quickly.”
“He’s just getting massacred,” one Arizona-based GOP operative told The Hill. “You can’t watch a YouTube clip about how to cook a roast chicken without seeing an ad about how he’s the crazy dad at the football game and shows him saying all these crazy things.”
“He’s kind of in a perilous place where he probably doesn’t have much money to address any of this stuff,” the strategist continued. “He can’t be on offense. He can’t defend himself. He has said a lot of things that are ill-advised and a problem for him. So I don’t see a huge opportunity at this point in the race. He started to build a real team, but it’s kind of too little, too late.”
Among Masters’s remarks that have drawn scrutiny: floating the idea of privatizing Social Security during a late-June primary debate; his hard-line views on abortion (which he has attempted to walk back); saying that Ted Kaczynski’s writings provided “a lot of insight there that is correct” (though he was quick to denounce Kaczynski’s terrorist actions); and his comment that the U.S.’s military leadership is “totally incompetent.”
…“Blake wanted to run an unscripted, unconventional campaign, and he has very much succeeded in doing it that way,” a second Arizona-based GOP strategist said. “The problem being unscripted is the Social Security gaffe, the Ted Kaczynski gaffe. You cannot turn on a TV and not see an elderly couple talking about how they’ve paid into Social Security since they were 15 and how Blake wants to take it away. … Now, he is dearly paying for that.”
Top Democrats aren’t complaining about his propensity for controversy.
“Quite frankly, the Republican candidate just has to keep talking. That helps us,” Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told The Hill regarding the Arizona race.
If Masters is going to turn things around, it has to happen fast. The lone debate between the two candidates is slated for Oct. 6, with early voting kicking off on Oct. 12— giving him less than two weeks to turn the tide. In 2018 and 2020, 79 percent and 89 percent of voters, respectively, handed their ballots in early.
…Republicans also believe that any path to victory for Masters has to include a combination of an improved political environment coupled with a sizable win by Kari Lake in the gubernatorial contest against Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D). According to the AARP survey, Lake carries 88 percent of Republicans compared to only 80 percent for Masters and trails Hobbs by 1 point overall (49 to 48 percent).
“Kelly has bombed this guy into the Stone Age. His only path to victory is a mob of low-information voters who are turning out to pick Kari Lake and they just see the ‘R’ next to Masters name and decide to vote Republican,” the national GOP strategist said. “That’s his only hope.”
I’m not sure counting on Kari Lake offers that much of a hope. She’s probably even crazier than Masters— even if her time as a TV news personality allows her to hide it better— and her prospects don’t look like she’s going to have any coattails to drag Masters into the Senate, even if she does wind up winning in the end. Masters tried to emulate the Trump "straight-talker" strategy, by allowing the verbal diarrhea to flow freely but he doesn't have the talent for it that Trump-- who skillfully uses the art of ambiguity-- does. Will Thiel come to his rescue. $60 million is a real money, even for a billionaire, especially for one who has already spent over $20 million buying the nominations for Masters and J.D. Vance-- and that's $20 million that doesn't count whatever he paid to bribe Trump into endorsing the two of them in the primaries.