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Republican PAC cuts ad buy in Arizona, raising questions about party’s hopes for Masters – The Washington Post

The main super PAC supporting Republican Senate candidates slashed airtime in Arizona, signaling trouble for nominee Blake Masters’s bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly.

The Senate Leadership Fund, an outside group allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said it canceled about $8 million worth of TV, radio and digital ads in Arizona, delaying its entry into the race until October. The cuts were first reported by Politico.

The move comes a week after the super PAC announced an additional $28 million in Ohio to prop up Republican hopeful J.D. Vance.

“We’re leaving the door wide open in Arizona but we want to move additional resources to other offensive opportunities that have become increasingly competitive, as well as an unexpected expense in Ohio,” SLF President Steven Law said in a statement. “We think the fundamentals of this election strongly favor Republicans, we see multiple paths to winning the majority, and we are going to invest heavily and strategically to achieve that goal.”

Both Masters and Vance won their primaries as first-time candidates boosted by former president Donald Trump’s endorsement and a combined more than $20 million from conservative technology billionaire Peter Thiel. But they both emerged battered from primary attack ads and with depleted cash reserves.

McConnell allies approached Thiel for more funding for the general but didn’t receive it, and it’s not clear whether Thiel will re-up, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private donor conversations.

A Fox News poll conducted earlier this month showed Kelly leading Masters by eight points, and the incumbent’s campaign reported having almost $25 million on hand in mid-July. Democrats were outspending Republicans in the race by about two-to-one before SLF’s pullback, according to data from media tracking company AdImpact.

The latest cuts add to Masters’s cash disadvantage because the National Republican Senatorial Committee also reduced its spending in Arizona and elsewhere as the group runs low on its own funds.

The Masters campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

During the primary, Masters tightly aligned with Trump and his false claims about the 2020 election. In recalibrating his campaign for November, on Thursday Masters updated his website to soften his stances on abortion and released a new ad identifying with “common-sense regulation around abortion.” Masters previously compared abortion to “human sacrifice” and said he would support an amendment recognizing fetuses as legal people before birth.

During the primary, Masters called for McConnell to be replaced as GOP leader, expressing his support for Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). Masters complained that McConnell was an obstacle to enacting Trump’s agenda even though the former majority leader delivered on a tax cut in 2017.

“I’ll tell Mitch this to his face,” Masters said during a debate in June. “He’s not bad at everything. He’s good at judges. He’s good at blocking Democrats. You know what he’s not good at? Legislating.”

Masters sought to make amends after winning the party nomination.

“I think he’ll come in and spend. Arizona’s gonna be competitive. It’s gonna be a close race, and I hope he does come in,” Masters told the Associated Press during a brief interview in Phoenix last week. “And we’ll find a way to work together.”

McConnell, for his part, told reporters in Kentucky last week that Republicans were less likely to win the Senate than the House, citing “candidate quality” as part of the reason. Republicans need to gain one seat to seize control of the Senate that stands at 50-50 with Vice President Harris the tiebreaking vote.

SLF also cut ads in Alaska but said that move reflected a strong position for incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who advanced to the general election along with her Trump-backed rival Kelly Tshibaka.

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