The Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced nearly $10 million in advertising cancelations in Arizona and Alaska. The Super PAC already announced cancelations of $13.5 million collectively for Pennsylvania ($7.5 million), Arizona ($3.5 million), Wisconsin ($2.5 million), and Nevada ($1.5 million).
These cuts come after McConnell made comments about “candidate quality” and forecasted that flipping the House may be more likely than picking up the one seat needed to flip the Senate for Republicans in November. Former President Donald Trump harshly criticized McConnell for his comments, and McConnell has remained in Trump’s crosshairs, as My RedState colleague, Brandon Morse reported on Friday.
In Arizona, where Trump-endorsed Blake Masters (R) is trailing incumbent Mark Kelly (D) another $8 million in advertising was canceled. A Fox News poll published August 18 showed that Kelly was leading Masters by 8 points. The Masters ads were previously slated to start after Labor Day, and now will begin in October.
Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law told Politico that the changes were in part due to a $28 million advertising buy in J.D. Vance’s Ohio race. Law also said the Alaska spending cuts were a show of confidence in the incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), pushing back the start date of the advertising.
Friday, CNBC reported that Masters is being pressed by GOP leadership and major donors to raise more money. Masters has raised $4 million this cycle while incumbent Kelly has raised more than $54 million, according to Federal Election Commission data. The report reads,
Masters has received urgent private calls in recent weeks from GOP leaders like Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, these people explained. The NRSC is the official campaign arm for the Senate GOP, and has spent over $6 million taking on Masters’ rival Kelly, according to data from the nonpartisan OpenSecrets.
A person familiar with one of the recent calls to Masters said a veteran GOP financier “read him the riot act” and told him, in part, that he must start raising money from more wealthy Republican donors and stop relying on billionaire tech executive Peter Thiel, his longtime colleague and friend, to help him like he did in the primary. These people declined to be named in order to speak freely about private conversations.
A spokesperson for the Masters campaign, Katie Miller, denied that any GOP funder read the candidate “the riot act”, saying,
“It didn’t happen.”
In a statement made to CNN, NRSC spokesman Chris Hartline did not deny that Scott called Masters to urge him to improve his fundraising. Interestingly, while the NRSC has no advertising for Arizona reserved for October or November, that is the time-frame the SLF ads are slated to start. Additionally, it was reported that OneNation, the public policy arm of the SLF Super-Pac is putting $10 million into tv, digital and radio adertising in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Wisconsin, signaling they have not lost interest in AZ’s Senate race.
Blake Masters continues to show confidence in his campaign, tweeting Friday, “We are going to win, have a nice weekend.”
We are going to win, have a nice weekend pic.twitter.com/e4dpIwT3Lq
— Blake Masters (@bgmasters) August 27, 2022