Loyalty to Trump defines the Republican primaries for the Senate in Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — An interviewer asked Arizona’s Republican Senate candidate teachers blake to pick a “subversive thinker” that people should know more about.

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

he picked up the unabomber.

“I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this,” Masters replied. “Such as, Theodore Kaczyński?”

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 Master March’s interview on an obscure podcast is emblematic. of the provocative style that has helped the 35-year-old first-time candidate connect with the segment of Republican primary voters eager to confront Democrats, technology companies and other enemies of the right in the midterm elections.

Buoyed by the endorsement of Donald Trump, Masters is commanding most of the attention in a primary defined above all by his loyalty to the former president. The winner of Tuesday’s election will face Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, one of the main targets of the Republican Party.

The primaries do not fit easily into the Trump vs. GOP that has defined so many contests this year, including the Arizona gubernatorial race. All of the major candidates aggressively sought Trump’s nod and have not been shy about coming forward with their false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Republican Governor Doug Ducey refused to run and the party’s mainstream has not coalesced around any particular candidate.

teacher faces businessman jim lamonwho founded and sold a solar energy company, and the Attorney General Mark Bronovich, who began the race as the best-known 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 Unabomber, Masters said he doesn’t endorse all of Kaczynski’s views, but “there’s a lot of information in there.” Kaczynski’s 35,000-word manifesto, which blames technological progress for social ills, has found a loyal following.

“He had a lot to say about the political left, about how everyone has inferiority complexes and fundamentally hates anything like goodness, truth, beauty, justice,” Masters said.

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

It’s an interesting position for a candidate who owes virtually his entire professional career to Facebook’s early investor, billionaire Peter Thiel. Masters took a class from Thiel when he was a law student at Stanford 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 to which he has so far 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 slogan “Make America Great Again.”

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

More recently, he is an immigration hardliner who advocates “ grand replacement theory”, accusing the Democrats of trying to flood the nation with millions of immigrants “to change the demographics of our country”. He called Democratic leaders “psychopaths” and posed with a rifle declaring “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 does not plan to downplay support if he is nominated.

“Do you know how many independents I run into who are like, ‘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 endorsement, Lamon says the former president screwed up in Arizona. At a recent campaign stop in Tempe, he claimed that Trump was endorsing Masters because of business ties to Thiel.

“All this writing that Masters did about opening borders, opening up free drug trade and blah blah blah, I don’t think President Trump knew that when he endorsed,” Lamon told a woman who wanted to know why Trump wasn’t endorsing More He later said he was not worried about alienating the former president or his supporters, pointing to Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania as another example of Trump poorly endorsing a Republican Senate candidate.

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

Lamon, an Army veteran, is cashing in on the fortune he built during a career in the energy industry.

“I would let the Border Patrol do their job,” said Bob Wallace, a 68-year-old Mesa retiree who supports Lamon. “Not playing babysitter to thousands and thousands of illegals. I’d rather they do their job, which is stop them at the border.”

Brnovich, in his second term as attorney general, is the only major candidate with experience in elected office. But he has seen his star fade since Trump got mad at him for not delivering what Trump wanted most: to indict election officials who he claims, without any evidence, illegally deprived him of a second term as president.

Brnovich initially ensured the integrity of the 2020 election, sitting next to the governor and secretary of state as they certified the election results. More recently, he says that he is investigating discredited allegations of wrongdoing in Maricopa County.

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

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

Kelly will be a formidable opponent for whoever emerges from the Republican primary. Kelly, a former astronaut and Navy pilot, is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt. He has worked to build a profile as a moderate since he was elected in a 2020 special election to end the term of the late Republican Senator John McCain.

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

Meanwhile, Republicans have struggled hard with fundraising. The candidates combined have raised less than half of Kelly’s loot, with much of that money coming from Lamon himself.

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

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