One of tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel’s closest confidants is considering a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz), a development that could dramatically shake up McSally’s bid for re-election.
Blake Masters, who would be a first-time candidate, told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday that he’d been considering a run for months and would make a decision shortly.
If he opts to run, the 33-year-old Masters would become McSally’s second primary challenger, joining Glendale businessman Daniel McCarthy.
“We need to keep this seat Republican,” Masters told The Republic. “And we need a GOP that puts voters before donors. Martha McSally lost a winnable race last year. If I come to believe that she can’t win next November, I’ll run.”
Masters currently serves as the president of the Thiel Foundation, a private foundation started and funded by hedge fund billionaire Peter Thiel, the controversial co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook.
Masters, who is also the Chief Operating Officer of Thiel’s investment firm, Thiel Capital, has long been close with Thiel and even co-wrote Thiel’s 2012 book Zero to One.
Masters grew up in Tucson but lived in California for several years before returning to Arizona last year, according to the Republic.
Should Masters decide to run, he is expected to raise significant amounts of money from his network in Silicon Valley, including those in Thiel’s world, and potentially Thiel himself, who has become one of the Republican Party’s biggest donors in recent years.
A Masters campaign also would further complicate McSally’s chances of holding her seat after she lost Arizona’s other Senate race in 2018 to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
McSally was later appointed to the state’s other Senate seat following the death of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). She has since positioned herself as a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, voting with him nearly 96% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. Trump has already endorsed McSally and Vice President Mike Pence visited Arizona this week to hold a fundraiser for her.
Whether it’s McSally who emerges from the primary, or Masters or McCarthy, the Republican nominee is likely to face off against Democrat Mark Kelly. A retired NASA astronaut and Navy captain, Kelly has not drawn a competitive primary challenger.