Peter Thiel, who usually prefers to let his money talk for him, spoke up over the weekend to give the hard pitch for Blake Masters before some of the Republican Party’s biggest donors. Masters, Thiel’s protégé and one-time co-author, has yet to gain real traction in Arizona’s crowded G.O.P. Senate primary. And Thiel, who stepped down from the Facebook board earlier this month in part to focus on his own Trump-inspired political projects, is the most powerful asset that he’s got.
Thiel was a keynote speaker at the Club for Growth summit at the famed Breakers resort in Palm Beach, according to an agenda shared with me by Documented, a watchdog group. The headline of Thiel’s speech was “Containment Is Not Enough,” but despite the ominous title, Thiel’s primary mission was to sell his fellow donors on Masters, who spoke just before Thiel in the Mediterranean Ballroom. (Shortly afterward, Masters traveled to New York for a Monday night fundraiser at Empire Steak House hosted by billionaire heiress AJ Catsimatidis and others, according to another invite I saw.)
The Club’s annual conference has been a traditional stop on the G.O.P. money trail, particularly during the shadow primary that precedes the Republican presidential nominating contest, but also during competitive off years, such as the expensive primary that Masters faces in Arizona. Masters took in a $10 million super PAC commitment from Thiel last year, but money alone hasn’t been enough to boost Masters to the front of the pack ahead of the August election. (It could have been worse: Doug Ducey, the state’s Republican governor, did say last week that he wouldn’t run.) It’s probably only a matter of time until Thiel arrives back in Arizona pushing another wheelbarrow of cash.