Blake Masters, the GOP candidate for Senate against incumbent (and extremely beatable) Senator Mark Kelly, has made the Senate race in Arizona a lot closer than anyone has realized. The polling shows that Masters has surged, but Masters has also kept it close, rising right along with him. He’s outside the margin of error in most polls, but he’s not out of the race entirely.
The problem is that he may be close to his ceiling. Earlier this week, my colleague Nick Arama pointed out a big prediction from RealClearPolitics, which was projecting that Republicans would end up with 52 seats in the Senate, leaving the Democrats at only 48. At the time, Arizona was listed as a pick-up for Republicans.
But, Masters has not been able to break through, and RealClearPolitics has amended its projection.
Georgia is now a pick-up for Republicans while Arizona is projected to stay in Mark Kelly’s and the Democrats’ hands.
Masters, though, has been in a bit of a bind where financial support is concerned. PayPal founder and billionaire Peter Thiel spent $15 million to promote Masters in the primary, only to be extremely hands-off in the general election. POLITICO is reporting, however, that Thiel is trying to organize a last-minute blitz.
On Monday evening, Thiel reached out to Steven Law, who heads the Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned super PAC, to propose a deal, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Thiel said that he and Law’s super PAC could each pump $5 million into the Arizona Senate race, where Thiel’s protégé, Blake Masters, is the Republican nominee running against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
During the Monday call, Law told Thiel he would see if he would be able to rustle up the $5 million from donors to meet Thiel’s proposal — though he said an ask this late in the election year, when contributors were largely tapped out, may not be successful.
But on Thursday morning, Law got back to the billionaire to tell him that he’d been unable to find the donors to provide the needed funds, the person familiar with the talks said. The call was described as cordial.
Spokespersons for Senate Leadership Fund and Thiel did not comment.
Word of the negotiations between Thiel and SLF was first reported by Axios.
It’s a bit late to try to organize a spend like this, especially when the Senate Leadership Fund has had to go in and do a lot of spending on candidates pushed by Thiel and others, especially when other groups who are supposed to be doing that either won’t or mishandle their money.
It’s no wonder that the Senate Leadership Fund, which is a PAC under the guidance of Mitch McConnell, is tapped out. They have been doing the heavy lifting through most of the election cycle because these other groups promised big things and never delivered. These major donors, many of whom McConnell has reached out to personally in the past, simply can’t give any more than they already have.
Masters absolutely has a path to success, and given the polling problems of past elections, I have no reason not to believe the race is closer than it appears. But, Kelly is the weakest incumbent the Democrats have, and the race should not be close with the Republican trailing. He has gotten better on the campaign trail and his debate performance was stellar. But, he has suffered because Thiel abandoned him, and Thiel wants to swing in and look like a hero now, but it’s too late.
Peter Thiel pumped money into the campaign to get Blake Masters the nomination. Then, he disappeared. If Masters loses, it’s on Thiel.