Thiel-linked PAC resumes spending in Arizona Senate race — without Thiel

Thiel-linked PAC resumes spending in Arizona Senate race — without Thiel

After sitting dormant since Blake Masters’ primary election, the super PAC that helped the candidate clinch the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona is now back in business.

Saving Arizona PAC, the outside group originally bankrolled by billionaire tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, on Friday will launch its first television ad for Masters since the Aug. 2 primary.

This time, however, it’s without Thiel’s money.

Saving Arizona has taken out a $1.5 million broadcast television ad buy in Phoenix, set to run over the next two weeks. The ad, first obtained by POLITICO, compares Masters and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, attacking Kelly for his votes on immigration and energy issues.

A person with knowledge of the ad buy who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that Thiel, who gave $13.5 million to the super PAC during the primary, has not donated additional money for the new spot, but declined to say who was funding it. While Thiel could invest more money in the race, “the group is not relying on Peter Thiel’s largesse at this point,” the person said, and the super PAC is “aggressively pitching” other Republican donors. Masters, a close associate of Thiel, stepped away from his work at Thiel Capital earlier this year.

Arizona is one of the top battleground states in the fight for the control of the narrowly divided Senate, though Republicans’ prospects there have seemed to diminish as Masters has trailed Kelly in polling and has struggled to raise money of his own.

“Put aside all the negative ads. Arizona has a clear choice for Senate,” the ad states, apparently referencing the onslaught of Democratic TV advertisements that have run against Masters in recent weeks. “Mark Kelly voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-funded benefits. Blake Masters believes illegal immigrants should not receive taxpayer funds.”

The narrator in the 30-second spot then proceeds to hit Kelly for opposing the Keystone Pipeline, tying his opposition to the project to high gas prices. It concludes by flashing on screen that Kelly is “too liberal for Arizona.”

Masters has been pummeled on air since the early August primary. Democratic ad spending in the race has totaled more than $20 million — more than triple the $6 million from Republicans.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Masters have spent a combined $3 million on ads during that time, while One Nation, the nonprofit group associated with Senate Leadership Fund, has bought roughly $2.5 million worth of ads attacking Kelly since the primary.

Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced two weeks ago it was cutting $8 million, or roughly half of its initial reservation in Arizona. That meant SLF ads in support of Masters won’t begin airing until October.

“We are all-in for Blake and plan on spending the next two months exposing Mark Kelly as the leftwing fraud he truly is,” said Andy Surabian, a senior adviser to Saving Arizona PAC, who argued that Kelly “has repeatedly sided with Joe Biden and the radical left over middle-class Arizonans.”

“We are confident that the people of Arizona will reject Kelly’s liberal extremism and replace him with Blake Masters this November.”

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