Thiel vs. McConnell, Round 2

blake masters
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
September 13, 2022

Last Sunday night in Miami, Arizona Senate hopeful Blake Masters dropped by the waterfront mansion of top Republican fundraiser Keith Rabois to deliver a closing pitch to 40 G.O.P. donors. Some enjoyed risotto while trying not to fall into a nearby pool. Others chatted up Tucker Carlson’s videographers, who told attendees they are working on a documentary about the race. Then Masters made his way to the garden to speak. Dressed in a long-sleeve brown t-shirt and grasping a wireless microphone, Masters launched into his usual spiel—tearing down Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly and lamenting that two-parent families can’t get by on a single income anymore—before a donor interjected during the Q&A with a more provocative prompt: Why is the Republican establishment letting him twist in the wind? 

Masters, after all, is in a vise. Mitch McConnell’s political allies believe the current polling shows he “doesn’t have a shot” of defeating Kelly in November, a person familiar with their thinking told me, which is why the the Senate Leadership Fund, McConnell’s super PAC, recently redirected $8 million in planned September ad spending to more winnable races. McConnell’s mandate, after all, is to secure a 51-seat Senate majority for the G.O.P., not to support seemingly longshot Republican candidates.

Nevertheless, Masters was brimming with confidence this weekend, and came prepared with a diplomatic answer. Ronna Romney McDaniel has been great and Rick Scott has been helpful, Masters essentially responded, according to three sources who offered their recollections of the Miami event. Then Masters brought up McConnell. I’m going to do so well over the next few months that the establishment won’t have a choice but to fund me. I don’t necessarily need the money. I could use the money. And ultimately the money will be there.