Loyalty to Trump defines Republican Senate primary in Arizona | Government and politics

By JONATHAN J. COOPER – Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — An interviewer asked the Republican Senate candidate from Arizona Blake Masters choose a “subversive thinker” that people should know more about.

The masters thought about it and came up with a risky answer for someone running for office.

“I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying that,” Masters replied. “How about, like, Theodore Kaczynski?”

Masters was careful to point out that he does not condone the bombings that killed three people and injured dozens between 1978 and 1995 and terrorized the nation until Kaczynski’s arrest in 1996. But the interview with Master’s March on an obscure podcast is emblematic of the provocative style that helped the 35-year-old candidate for the first time connect with the segment of Republican primary voters eager to take on the Democrats, technology companies and other enemies of the right in the midterm elections.

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Boosted by Donald Trump’s endorsement, Masters is engulfing most of the attention in a primary defined above all 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 does not fit easily into the Trump vs. GOP establishment pattern that has defined so many contests this year, including the Arizona governor race. All major candidates have aggressively sought Trump’s imprimatur and have been quick to assert his false claims of voter fraud from the 2020 presidential election. GOP Gov. Doug Ducey refused to run and the party mainstream did not coalesce around a particular candidate.

Faces of masters businessman Jim Lamonwho founded and sold a solar energy company, and attorney general Marc Brnovitch, who started the race as the best-known candidate but was weighed down by heavy criticism from Trump. Retired Major General Michael McGuire, a former chief of the Arizona National Guard, and Justin Olson, a former lawmaker and member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, have struggled to gain traction.

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

“He had a lot to say about the political left, how they all have inferiority complexes and basically hate anything resembling goodness, truth, beauty, justice,” Masters said.

Despite a career in venture capital closely tied to Silicon Valley startups, Masters comes off as a critic of Big Tech and calls for regulating social media giants such as Facebook, which he says is unfair to conservatives. .

It’s an interesting position for a candidate who owes almost his entire professional career to Facebook’s first investor, billionaire Peter Thiel. The masters took a course from Thiel as a Stanford law student and formed a lasting bond. They wrote a book together, Masters worked for Thiel’s investment firm and foundation, and the billionaire is now funding Masters’ Senate bid through a super political action committee he’s got so far. now contributed $15 million.

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

Masters was once a strident libertarian whose online posts as a student have been fodder for his rivals. He called for unrestricted immigration and wrote that “the United States has not been involved in a just war for over 140 years,” a period that notably excludes World War II. Masters later told Jewish Insider, which first reported on the comments, that he “went too far.” He criticized rivals and the media for dwelling on his writing as a teenager.

More recently, he is an immigration hardliner who espouses the ” grand replacement theoryaccusing 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 gun saying “this is designed to kill people”, saying the Second Amendment is not about hunting.

Trump’s support has been “great for my campaign,” Masters said, and he doesn’t plan to downplay the endorsement if nominated.

“Do you know how many independents I meet who say, like, ‘We’re sorry, we voted for Biden. Please bring back the mean tweets because we want $2 gas, we want a border,” Masters said.

After trying hard but failing to get Trump’s approval, Lamon says the former president got it wrong in Arizona. During a recent campaign stop in Tempe, he claimed Trump endorsed Masters because of his business ties to Thiel.

“All this stuff that Masters wrote about open borders, free drug trade and blah, blah, blah – I don’t think President Trump knew that when he endorsed it,” Lamon told an interview. woman who wanted to know why Trump wasn’t supporting He later said he wasn’t worried about alienating the former president or his supporters, citing Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania as another example of Trump doing a bad endorsement of a Republican candidate for the Senate.

“How’s Oz doing for us?” Oz has a lot of experience compared to Masters,” Lamon said in an interview, noting polls that show Oz trailing Democrat John Fetterman.

Lamon, an Army veteran, taps into the fortune he built during a career in the energy industry.

“He would let the Border Patrol do their thing,” said Bob Wallace, a 68-year-old retiree from Mesa who supports Lamon. “Not to play nursemaid to thousands and thousands of illegals. He prefers that they do their job, which stops them at the border.”

Brnovich, in his second term as attorney general, is the only major candidate with experience in elected office. But he’s seen his star fade since Trump latched onto him because he didn’t deliver what Trump wanted most – indictments from election officials who he says, without any evidence, the illegally deprived of a second term as president.

Brnovich initially vouched for the integrity of the 2020 election and sat alongside the governor and secretary of state as they certified the election results. More recently, he says he is investigate discredited allegations irregularities in Maricopa County.

During a recent debate, Brnovich was repeatedly called out by the crowd as he tried to speak.

“Listen, I respect you, please respect me and let me finish my answer,” he finally clapped. “If the truth hurts, then shut up, okay? Just let me talk.”

Kelly will be a formidable opponent for anyone coming out of the GOP primary. A former Navy astronaut and pilot, Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt. He has worked to build a profile as a moderate since being elected in a 2020 special election to finish the term of the late Republican Senator John McCain,

Kelly is a fundraising powerhouse and has raised $52 million through the end of June for what will likely be one of the country’s most expensive campaigns this year, half of which is still in her bank account. He’s using that fortune to bolster his image with a barrage of positive TV ads as Republicans stay focused on each other.

Republicans, meanwhile, have struggled mightily with fundraising. The contestants combined collected less than half of Kelly’s loot, with much of that money coming from Lamon himself.

Follow AP for full midterm coverage on https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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