Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has put $10 million into a newly formed PAC backing a business partner’s Senate bid, as first reported by Politico. Formed on April 19th, the Saving Arizona PAC is taking aim at the state’s 2022 Senate race, which will see former astronaut Mark Kelly defending his seat for the Democrats. According to Politico, the PAC will support Thiel Capital executive Blake Masters in the Republican primary and general election, putting him at an immediate fundraising advantage in one of the most closely watched races of the cycle.
Masters came to prominence as the co-author of Thiel’s popular book, Zero to One, and was hired shortly afterward as an executive at Thiel Capital. The book originated as Masters’ notes from a class Thiel taught at Stanford, published on Masters’ Tumblr-hosted blog in 2012. He has never held public office; his most significant government experience is a four-month stint clerking at a US Attorney’s office in 2010.
Masters did not respond to a request for comment.
A longtime critic of liberal values, Thiel has been particularly aligned with the US Republican party since 2016, when he was an enthusiastic and public supporter of former President Trump and spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention. Thiel reportedly chose to distance himself from Trump after the COVID-19 crisis but has remained an active donor for Republican candidates. In a 2020 Kansas Senate race, Thiel donated $850,000 in support of Kris Kobach, notorious for advocating a “Muslim registry” in the early days of the Trump administration. (Ultimately, the bid was unsuccessful.) In the 2022 cycle, Thiel also donated $10 million toward Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance’s push for a Senate seat in Ohio.
The Republican candidate in 2022 will be facing off against Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who joined the Senate after a special election in 2020. Husband of former US Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), Kelly has been outspoken on issues of climate and health care, pledging to bring a renewed focus on data and science to the Senate.
“When you are trying to make these hard decisions, it’s important to look at the data,” Kelly told The Verge in an interview in 2019. “We sometimes elect people who have beliefs that are just not true and are not rooted in reality and facts.”