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Arizona’s Republican Senate primary determines Trump loyalty


PHOENIX (AP) – An interviewer asked Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters to pick a “disruptive thinker” that people should…

PHOENIX (AP) — An interviewer asked Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters to pick a “disruptive thinker” people should know more about.

Masters thought and came up with a risky answer for someone running for elected office.

He chose the Unabomber.

“I’ll probably get in trouble if I say that,” Masters replied. “How about Theodore Kaczynski?”

Masters was careful to stress that he was not condoning the bombings, which killed three people and injured dozens between 1978 and 1995 and terrorized the nation until Kaczynski’s arrest in 1996. But Master’s March interview on an obscure podcast is emblematic of the provocative style that has helped the 35-year-old first-time candidate connect with a swath of Republican primary voters eager to stand up to Democrats, tech companies and other enemies of the right in the midterm elections. .

Buoyed by his support for Donald Trump, Masters is getting most of the attention in a primary that is primarily defined by loyalty to the former president. The winner of Tuesday’s election will face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, one of the GOP’s top targets.

The primary doesn’t fit easily into the Trump-vs.-GOP establishment scheme that has defined so many contests this year, including the Arizona governor’s race. All the major candidates have pushed hard for Trump’s imprimatur and have not been shy about promoting their false claims of election fraud since the 2020 presidential election. Republican Governor Doug Ducey has withdrawn from the race, and the mainstream of the party has not coalesced around a particular candidate.

Masters faces businessman Jim Layman, who founded and sold a solar energy company, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who started the race as the most prominent candidate but has been weighed down by fierce criticism from Trump. Retired Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, a former head of the Arizona National Guard, and Justin Olson, a former legislator and member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, have struggled to gain traction.

As for the Unabomber, Masters said he doesn’t share all of Kaczynski’s views, but “there’s a lot of insight there.” Kaczynski’s 35,000-word manifesto, which blames technological progress for all of society’s ills, has found loyal supporters.

“He had a lot to say about the political left, that they all have inferiority complexes and fundamentally hate everything like goodness, truth, beauty, justice,” Masters said.

Despite a venture capital career closely tied to Silicon Valley startups, Masters is a vocal critic of Big Tech and calls for regulation of social media giants like Facebook, which he says is unfair to conservatives.

This is an interesting position for a candidate who owes almost his entire professional career to Facebook’s first investor, billionaire Peter Thiel. As a law student at Stanford, Masters studied with Thiel and formed a lasting connection. They wrote a book together, Masters worked for Thiel’s investment firm and foundation, and now the billionaire is funding Masters’ Senate bid through a super political action committee to which he has contributed $15 million.

Trump last week called Masters “a brilliant mind who really supports the MAGA movement and America First.” MAGA references Trump’s Make America Great Again theme.

Masters was once a strident libertarian whose online posts as a college student became fodder for his opponents. He called for unlimited immigration and wrote that “the United States has not fought a just war in over 140 years,” a period that specifically excludes World War II. Masters later told Jewish Insider, which first reported the comments, that he “went too far.” He was critical of his competitors and the media for focusing on his writing as a teenager.

More recently, he has been an immigration hardliner who supports the “great replacement theory,” accusing Democrats of trying to flood the country with millions of immigrants “to change the demographics of our country.” He called Democratic leaders “psychopaths” and posed with a rifle, saying “it’s meant to kill people,” saying the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to hunting.

Trump’s endorsement has been “great for my campaign,” Masters said, and he has no plans to downplay the support if he is nominated.

“You know how many independents I meet who say, ‘I’m sorry, we voted for Biden. Please bring back the angry tweets because we want $2 gas, we want a border,” Masters said.

After trying hard but failing to win Trump’s endorsement, Lamon says the former president got it wrong in Arizona. On the recent campaign trail in Tempe, he said Trump endorsed Masters because of his business ties to Thiel.

“All this stuff by Masters about open borders and open free drug trade and blah, blah, blah — I don’t think President Trump knew that when he endorsed him,” Lamon told a woman who wanted to know why Trump didn’t endorse him. He later said he wasn’t worried about alienating the former president or his supporters, pointing to Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania as another example of Trump’s poor endorsement of a Republican Senate candidate.

“How does Oz work for us? Oz has a lot of experience compared to Masters,” Laymon said in an interview, noting polls showing Oz trailing Democrat John Fetterman.

Lemmon, an Army veteran, made his fortune during his career in the energy sector.

“He would let the Border Patrol do their job,” said Bob Wallace, a 68-year-old retiree from Mesa who supports Lamon. “Don’t play babysitter for thousands and thousands of illegals. He would like them to do their job, which is to stop them at the border.”

Brnovich, who is in his second term as attorney general, is the only major candidate with experience in elected office. But he has seen his star dim since Trump lashed out at him for failing to get what Trump wanted most — impeachment of election officials who he claims, without any evidence, illegally robbed him of a second presidential term. term.

Brnovich initially vouched for the integrity of the 2020 election and sat next to the governor and secretary of state as they certified the election results. Most recently, he says he is looking into discredited allegations of misconduct in Maricopa County.

During one recent debate, Brnovich was repeatedly heckled by the crowd as he tried to speak.

“Look, I respect you, please respect me and let me finish my answer,” he finally clapped back. “If the truth hurts, then shut up, okay? Let me just talk.’

Kelly will be a formidable opponent for whoever emerges from the GOP primary. A former astronaut and Navy aviator, Kelly is the husband of former representative Gabrielle Giffords, who survived the assassination attempt. He worked to build a profile as a moderate candidate after being elected in a 2020 special election to finish the term of the late Republican Sen. John McCain.

Kelly is a fundraising powerhouse and by the end of June had raised $52 million for what is likely one of the most expensive campaigns in the country this year, with half of that still sitting in his bank account. He is using that wealth to bolster his image with a barrage of positive TV ads while Republicans focus on each other.

Republicans, meanwhile, have struggled mightily with fundraising. The candidates combined have raised less than half of Kelly’s money, with most of that money coming from Lamon himself.


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