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Masters’s Arizona Win Gets Thiel His Second GOP Senate Candidate

The primary victory for Blake Masters—who, like JD Vance, is backed by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel—sets up another midterm test in a battleground state.

Senate candidate Blake Masters enters a Republican campaign rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz.

Senate candidate Blake Masters enters a Republican campaign rally in Prescott Valley, Ariz.

Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In mid-May, Jim Lamon, a conservative businessman running for a US Senate seat in Arizona, began airing ads that focused on the Silicon Valley connections of one of his opponents, Blake Masters. “Do not trust this puppet,” warned one, which depicted Masters as a ventriloquist’s dummy for billionaire investor Peter Thiel. The attack, which was designed to question Masters’s far-right credentials, carried enough truth to sting: For a decade, Masters served, more or less, as an extension of the contrarian venture capitalist. He ran Thiel’s personal investment fund and his foundation and co-wrote Thiel’s business memoir, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. He parlayed his Thiel connections into a long-shot Senate run, starting with a generous $10 million super PAC contribution from his former mentor.

As the primary campaign heated up in the spring, Thiel re-upped, donating an addition $5 million to the pro-Masters PAC. The money helped blunt spending by the wealthy and self-financed Lamon, who aired versions of the puppet ad along with commercials that mocked Masters’s suggestion that the writings of Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber, were “underrated.”