McConnell and anti-establishment Peter Thiel battle over GOP funding with key Senate seats on the line

The recent decision by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund PAC to pull roughly $8 million in funding from Arizona Senate nominee Blake Masters and redirect some of it to Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance was no coincidence.

According to reporting from The Washington Post, it was part of a battle that’s been playing out behind the scenes between McConnell and billionaire Republican investor Peter Thiel.

The battle began last year when Thiel decided to bet big on Masters and Vance, two non-establishment candidates, meaning candidates not preferred by establishment types like McConnell.

Not to mention leftists:

“McConnell previously expressed dissatisfaction with Thiel’s move to bankroll independent super PACs backing Vance and Masters, telling the billionaire investor last year that his money would go further if he gave it to the Senate Leadership Fund, which ‘can put some real lead on the target'” the Post reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources.

It didn’t help that both Masters and Vance were comfortable publicly trash-talking the Senate leader.

“During his 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.),” according to the Post.

“I’ll tell Mitch this to his face. 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,” he reportedly said during a primary debate in the summer.

Vance meanwhile at one point reportedly accused McConnell of being “a little out of touch with the base.” Meanwhile, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly endorsed Vance in part because he “won’t hand his voting card over to Mitch McConnell.”

Both Masters and Vance subsequently won their primary elections this summer. That’s when the battle began heating up.

At this point, McConnell had no other choice but to throw his own support behind Masters and Vance, lest Republicans lose two Senate-seat battles.

However, because Thiel is the one ultimately responsible for Masters and Vance having gotten this far in the first place, McConnell is demanding the billionaire investor keep forking over cash, particularly for Masters, whose chances of securing a Senate seat seem bleak.

“McConnell told Thiel over the phone last week that Vance’s race in Ohio was proving more costly for the Senate Leadership Fund than anticipated, that money was not unlimited and that there was a need for the billionaire to ‘come in, in a big way, in Arizona,'” the Post notes.

Senate Leadership Fund chief executive officer Steven Law reportedly also joined McConnell in badgering Thiel.

“Law, in a call with Thiel the day before his group cut back on the Arizona ads, expressed concern about Masters as a candidate and pessimism about his campaign’s viability. Both Vance, 38, and Masters, 36, are friends and former business associates of Thiel’s; Masters stepped down from roles at Thiel’s investment firm and foundation this year,” according to the Post.

The message both McConnell and Law were trying to convey, according to the Post, was that “they should essentially split the cost, with Thiel cutting a check to their super PAC matching whatever funds they put behind Masters. Another option, these people said, was that the Thiel-funded super PAC could take over the ad reservations initially made by the McConnell-linked group.”

But Thiel reportedly isn’t interested in “such arrangements,” and therein lies their current beef — a beef that leftists are savoring:

“Thiel indicated to them that he was not interested in such arrangements — a posture, say people around the venture capitalist, that is informed by his approach of investing early and a belief that any more of his money would be used as a Democratic talking point; he is still hosting fundraisers for Masters in the coming weeks,” according to the Post.

His strategy makes no sense to some Republicans.

“I don’t understand the logic of spending $15 million to help Blake Masters in the primary and then [letting] him twist in the wind against one of the best funded U.S. Senate candidates in history,” one unnamed GOP consultant told the Post.

As for McConnell’s decision to pull out of Arizona, it appears to stem from his belief that Blake is a low-quality candidate who doesn’t stand a real chance.

“The Senate Leadership Fund’s decision to cut its Arizona investments — along with McConnell’s recent comments that ‘candidate quality’ matters — have signaled that Washington Republicans do not view the Masters race as a good investment, said Stan Barnes, a GOP strategist in Arizona,” the Post notes.

As for McConnell and Thiel, keep in mind that their beef transcends this particular battle. Indeed, Puck News explains it as follows:

“[A]t its most fundamental level, the brinkmanship between Thiel and McConnell boils down to different visions for the Republican Party. Thiel … has primarily supported MAGA groups, along with those like the Club for Growth, that have been thorns in McConnell’s side. The G.O.P., for Thiel, is merely a vehicle for his political goals. But for McConnell, the elder statesman, the dominance of the G.O.P. is the goal itself. He wants to elect 51 Republican Senators, by any means necessary.”

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Vivek Saxena

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