Trump to attend fundraiser for Arizona GOP Senate candidate
Former President Trump is set to attend a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort next week with Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters, his first public involvement in the state’s marquee Senate race.
An invitation to the fundraiser obtained by The Hill shows the event will be held on Wednesday and costs $2,900 per person to attend. Donors or couples giving $25,000 ahead of the event will also be granted a picture with Trump.
The invitation also shows that the host committee for the event includes an array of prominent tech titans and conservative mega-donors, including Peter Thiel, who has already dumped $10 million into a super PAC backing Masters, and Rebekah Mercer.
Masters is the chief operating officer at Thiel Capital and president of the Thiel Foundation. News of the fundraiser was first reported by Politico.
Trump’s involvement in the fundraiser is notable given that he has not issued an endorsement in the GOP Senate primary. He has officially backed candidates running in Arizona’s gubernatorial and secretary of state races.
It was not immediately clear if the fundraiser was an indication that Trump was leaning toward endorsing Masters, who has a mutual ally with the former president in Thiel, or if Trump is still considering throwing his weight behind another contender.
Among the other Republicans running for the chance to take on Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) next year are Arizona Secretary of State Mark Brnovich and businessman Jim Lamon.
Both Masters and Brnovich have competed to display their loyalty to Trump, who remains wildly popular with the GOP grassroots in Arizona, though Trump has knocked Brnovich for what he suggested was insufficient support of a Republican-led audit of the November presidential race in the state.
That audit ultimately showed that President Biden won Arizona by a slightly wider margin than initially believed.
Brnovich has tried to bolster his conservative bona fides by using his office to sue the Biden administration on its vaccine mandates for businesses, though Masters has released ads knocking the attorney general as weak on illegal immigration.
An internal poll commissioned by the pro-Masters Saving Arizona super PAC this month and obtained by The Hill showed Brnovich’s unfavorable rating jumped from 9 percent to 20 percent since the launch of the ad and that Masters’s support in the primary among likely voters rose from 5 percent to 14 percent.
The poll showed Brnovich leading Masters by a 29-5 margin in August compared to a 26-14 margin in October.
There is still speculation that term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey (R) could jump into the Senate race, though Trump would likely seek to blunt his momentum after the governor repeatedly downplayed Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud in the November presidential race in Arizona.
The race to unseat Kelly is one of the GOP’s top offensive opportunities next year, along with Senate contests in Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire. Kelly won a special election in 2020 to serve the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) term and will be running for a full term of his own next year.
Arizona had been a long a conservative bastion, but a surge in population in and around purple Phoenix, a suburban backlash to Trump and an increasingly diverse electorate made it more competitive, culminating in Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D) win in 2018 and Biden’s and Kelly’s victories there in 2020. Last year marked the first time a Democratic presidential nominee had won the state since 1996.