Billionaire Peter Thiel makes August primary bets

Billionaire Peter Thiel makes August primary bets

Tech executive Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir Technologies, is spending significant amounts of money this year on a few key midterm races.

Ahead of Arizona’s August 2 primary, Thiel has spent millions bankrolling a super PAC backing Blake Masters, a Republican candidate for Senate. Masters is also an employee of the financier, serving as the the Chief Operating Officer of Thiel Capital, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The PAC, Saving Arizona, has received over $13 million from Thiel alone, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Masters has a good chance of winning the primary next week, too. He received a critical endorsement from former President Donald Trump and has had to spend relatively little of his own campaign cash on the airwaves, relying mostly on TV ads funded by Saving Arizona. The group has spent over $8 million on ads in the state backing Masters, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.

In the latest poll of the race, Masters held the most support from primary voters, with 25% planning to vote for him. The candidates with the next highest levels of support were businessman Jim Lamon, whom 18% of those polled said they would vote for, and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, whom 14% of those polled said they would vote for. And 35% of those polled remained undecided.

This is the second Senate race where Thiel has spent over $10 million this cycle. In May, Ohio Republican J.D. Vance won the Republican primary and the chance to fill retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman’s seat.

In that campaign, Thiel donated over $14 million to a super PAC backing Vance called Protect Ohio Values, according to transactions filed with the FEC.

There are a handful of other races Thiel has put money into that have contentious primaries next month, including in Wyoming and Washington. In those races, though, Thiel has donated directly to campaigns, which are legally prohibited from accepting over $2,900 from individual contributors per election cycle.

Primary elections and general elections count as two separate election cycles, meaning donors can actually donate up to $5,800 at a time.

Thiel has hit that $2,900 or $5,800 limit in four upcoming races, backing three Trump-backed challengers taking on House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

He’s donated to Harriet Hageman, who is running to unseat GOP Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming’s only congressional district; to former police chief Loren Culp, a Republican running to unseat GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse in Washington’s 4th District; and to Army veteran Joe Kent, a Republican running to unseat GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington’s 3rd District. He’s also donated to GOP Rep. Michael Waltz, who is running for re-election in Florida’s 6th District.

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