The Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund is canceling $9.6 million in television ads for the Arizona Senate race, confident that other outside conservative groups will make up much of the difference for Republican nominee Blake Masters.
Why it matters: The cancellations mean that the GOP’s leading super PAC won’t be spending any money in Arizona, one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country. Its allied non-profit arm spent several millions in the state on issue ads over the summer.
State of play: Other GOP-aligned super PACs, including one affiliated with the conservative Heritage Action for America super PAC, will be making up some of the difference. The Sentinel Action Fund will be spending $3.5 million on television ads and another $1.5 million on voter outreach, according to Politico.
- A super PAC funded by billionaire Peter Thiel is spending $1.68 million on behalf of Masters. Thiel, however, hasn’t donated any of his own money to the super PAC since the Republican primary. Thiel is holding a private fundraiser for Masters at his California home at the end of September, according to CNBC.
- According to a GOP ad tracker, other Republican groups spending money include the Trump-affiliated super PAC Our American Century ($1 million); the National Republican Senatorial Committee ($887,000), the Club for Growth ($330,000) and Restoration PAC ($100,000).
The big picture: Despite Arizona’s battleground status, many Republican officials have been wary about Masters’ prospects against Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
- Masters is trailing Kelly in public polling, and Republican internal surveys have his unfavorability ratings unusually high for a first-time candidate.
- Most of the outside funding for Masters’ campaign will now be coming from ideologically aligned groups, not those directly invested in a Republican Senate majority.
By the numbers: SLF was planning to spent $9.6 million on television ads in Arizona. So far, the outside groups have made up about $7.5 million of that total.
What they’re saying: “We’re glad to see Republican outside forces showing up in a big way in Arizona, with millions in new spending pledged to take down Mark Kelly in the final stretch,” Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law told Axios.
Reality check: Even though the McConnell-aligned super PAC isn’t spending money in Arizona, McConnell is hosting a fundraiser for Masters on Wednesday, according to Punchbowl News. That would mark the second fundraiser McConnell has held for Masters, who repeatedly criticized the Republican leader during the primary.
The bottom line: SLF will be re-allocating the money intended for Arizona into three different states — Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada. “This allows us to pursue offensive opportunities, maximize our investment in existing commitments, and concentrate our efforts to win the Senate majority,” Law said.