Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s super PAC dropped nearly $12 million in new spending on competitive races in key battlegrounds — but none of that spending is for one of the most competitive races of all: GOP rookie Blake Masters versus Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly in Arizona.
McConnell’s allies in Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Alaska will each claim a portion of the pot from the Kentucky lawmaker’s Senate Leadership Fund, according to new numbers out Tuesday, while Arizona venture capitalist Masters remains abandoned by the top elected Republican in the country.
In Alaska, GOP incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski will receive nearly $1 million in support from McConnell’s PAC as she fends off a competitive challenge from Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who is running with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
The cash infusion to Alaska comes after recent polling in the race shows Murkowski in a dead heat to keep her seat against Tshibaka, who has pledged not to support McConnell for another term in Senate leadership.
The additional support for Murkowski also comes after McConnell canceled $1.7 million in Alaska ad buys and pulled $8 million from Masters in Arizona last month. The decision to do both at the same time only served as a smokescreen to hide McConnell’s true Senate ambitions: Maintain a minority he can control instead of an anti-establishment majority that threatens his leadership perch.
“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,” Axios reported last week.
According to a chart of Senate spending published on Twitter by California political researcher Rob Pyers, McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund has no money allocated to the Arizona Senate contest this fall. The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC), on the other hand, is shown giving Masters, who is trying to unseat incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly, more than any other candidate. The NRSC has set aside more than $9.9 million for Masters, which is more than $3 million over any other candidate supported by the committee.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the NRSC, has publicly clashed with McConnell after the Senate leader in charge of reclaiming the majority undermined GOP chances by complaining about “candidate quality.”
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said as Senate candidates struggle in key states. “Senate races are just different, they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
Scott defended the slate of GOP recruits in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner shortly after McConnell’s comments.
“We have great candidates with incredible backgrounds and ideas to make our country better,” Scott wrote. “Do I wish they had more money than their Democratic opponent? Of course. But we have great candidates, chosen by the voters in their states, and our job is to help each one of them win.”
While Scott has sought to boost Masters with the NRSC, the $10 million it dumped into the race remains far short of the $18 million McConnell pulled. Other groups have begun to step up, including an independent super PAC affiliated with Heritage Action for America, which announced $3.5 million to support Masters earlier this month.
In an interview with The Federalist, Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, called the Arizona Senate race “a clarion call for the conservative movement to come and support this candidate.”
The Frontiers of Freedom Action (FFA) super PAC also announced a six-figure ad buy behind Masters.
On Monday, the Women Speak Out PAC, an affiliate of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group, launched a million-dollar ad campaign to highlight Kelly’s abortion extremism.