Tech's Thiel Gives $10M to PAC Backing Ally in Arizona Senate Race Peter Thiel, Partner, Founders Fund, speaks onstage during the 2018 New York Times Dealbook on Nov. 1, 2018, in New York City. (Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 26 April 2021 08:04 AM
Tech billionaire Peter Thiel reportedly is spending $10 million to support a close friend in next year's Arizona senate race.
Thiel, who co-founded PayPal, is financing Saving Arizona PAC – a newly formed committee in support of Blake Masters, chief operating officer of Thiel Capital and the president of the Thiel Foundation, according to Politico on Monday.
Masters has not entered the race yet, but he’s expected run for the seat currently held by Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.
Kelly won a 2020 special election to fill the seat that had been vacated by the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
A state that produced longtime conservative icon Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., and McCain has turned increasingly blue in recent years. Still, the GOP is eyeing Kelly's seat as it tries to take back control of a Senate currently split along party lines.
A libertarian, Thiel has emerged as one of the largest donors for the midterm elections. He recently gave $10 million to a super PAC supporting author J.D. Vance, who’s expected to run for Ohio’s open Senate seat.
Thiel previously helped finance Narya, a Vance-co-founded venture capital firm.
Thiel’s financial support of Masters could influence potential Republican candidates to remain on the sideline. State Attorney General Mark Brnovich, energy company executive Jim Lamon, and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., all have been mentioned as possible senate candidates.
Club for Growth, an anti-tax PAC, has indicated it likely would back Biggs, a former President Donald Trump loyalist and chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Biggs has not said if he will run for the senate seat.
Gov. Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., who won reelection in 2018, will not seek a third term due to term limits. He has said he does not intend to run for the Senate, though some Republicans hope he does.
Ducey was criticized by Trump for not bolstering state legislative Republicans' efforts to audit the 2020 election results in Maricopa County, where a majority of the state's voters live.
Democrats’ growing influence in Arizona has been seen by moderate Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., holding the state’s other U.S. Senate seat, and with President Joe Biden winning the state last year.
Kelly, a retired astronaut, is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. He reportedly has raised $4.4 million during the first three months of this year.
A Stanford-educated venture capitalist and attorney, Masters considered making a 2020 primary challenge to then-Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., though ultimately he decided not to.
Masters and Thiel co-authored "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" in 2014.
Thiel allies say the tech titan is looking at possibly supporting other 2022 contenders, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., who is seeking reelection, and army veteran Joe Kent, who's challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler R-Wash.
Herrera Beutler voted in favor of impeaching Trump last year following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
Thiel, who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Trump’s campaigns, gave more than $2 million to a super PAC that supported the unsuccessful Senate candidacy of Kris Kobach, R-Kan..
Kobach, a Trump supporter, lost the primary to Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan.