U.S. Senate: Venture capitalist Blake Masters dislikes the country’s direction

Blake Masters (Photo courtesy of the Blake Masters campaign)

Candidate name: Blake Masters
Political affiliation: Republican
Position sought: U.S. Senate
Age: 36
Career: Entrepreneur and investor
Website: blakemasters.com

Blake Masters has never held political office, which is exactly why he believes he’s most qualified to serve in the U.S. Senate.

The Republican is running against Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who has served in the Senate since 2020. The race is considered pivotal to which party holds control of the Senate.

Masters, who served on former President Donald Trump’s transition team, has been endorsed by Trump and presents himself as Arizona’s “true MAGA (Make America Great Again) candidate.”

Masters was trailing Kelly, a former astronaut, in a recent poll of likely voters conducted by Suffolk University for The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. With early voting set to start Oct. 12, Kelly led 49% to 42%, with 7% undecided.

Masters blames the Biden administration for a flood of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border.

“I grew up in Arizona, so I’m familiar with illegal immigration not just being a new issue. We’ve always been dealing with it,” he said. “But three years ago, while it wasn’t perfect, it was stable. We had operational control three years ago. Then Joe Biden took office and threw the southern border wide open.”

Masters, a protégé of billionaire investor Peter Thiel, was endorsed by Trump, who cited the candidate’s support of his contention that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

During an October debate aired on Arizona PBS, Masters acknowledged that he hasn’t seen evidence of fraud. He said he believes Joe Biden is the “legitimate president,” although he contended that “big tech and big media and the FBI” conspired to tip the scales to Biden.

Masters spoke briefly via Zoom for this Cronkite News story. Because of time constraints, however, he did not answer all questions posed to other candidates. His views on some issues are drawn from public statements and his website.

Q: Why are you interested in this job?

Masters said he looks around and sees a “disaster” left by Democrats.

“I worry a lot about the country that (my sons) are on track to grow up in.”

In the debate, Masters said Kelly “has messed everything up.”

“Our border is in chaos; we’ve got drugs and illegal aliens just pouring in; crime is up, the cost of groceries. Actually, the cost of everything you need to live keeps going up and up,” he said. “It wasn’t like this two years ago. What changed? Joe Biden took over, and in Washington, Mark Kelly backs Joe Biden every single time, without thinking twice, without thinking of Arizona.”

Q: What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you the best candidate?

Masters said his business background as a venture capitalist gives him a perspective that his opponent lacks.

“Mark Kelly admirably served this country in the military. That’s a valuable perspective. But he’s never run a business, not really.”

Masters was president of the private Thiel Foundation, created and funded by billionaire American entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel to foster breakthrough technologies. Masters also co-wrote with Thiel the book “Zero to One,” about building businesses.

“Washington, D.C., is full of bureaucrats and politicians, people who don’t really understand how business works, how finance works, how economics works. That’s one reason why we’re in such a tough spot today.”

Q: What are the major issues facing Arizona?

The Biden administration’s handling of immigration.

Under the Trump administration, Masters said, the borders “weren’t perfect but were stable.”

Inflation and the ongoing drought are other issues that must be addressed, he said.

“A huge water crisis is looming. I don’t think Sen. Mark Kelly has done nearly enough about that. We need a senator to get in there with sharp elbows, renegotiate some of these bad agreements and actually bring in a technological perspective, right? We need to innovate our way out of this stuff.”

Masters’ proposed solutions to Arizona’s water crisis include building desalination plants and pipelines to bring in more water, but he did not offer details as to how that could be accomplished.

Q: What will be your top priorities if elected?

Securing the border, stopping “crippling” inflation and battling crime “so that our families can be safe.”

“I’m all for some legal immigration, but not illegal immigration. The correct amount of illegal immigration is zero.

“We need to crack down on crime. That means we need to support our police.”

Masters has been endorsed by the Border Patrol Council, an association of federal border agents, and the 12,000-member Arizona Police Association.

His position on abortion

During the GOP primary, Masters called abortion “demonic” and advocated for a federal law that would recognize fetuses as people.

He presented a more moderate view during the PBS debate, saying that states should be able to set their own laws but he would support some federal limits on abortion, such as banning it after 15 weeks gestation.

During the debate, he said he supports exceptions “because I don’t believe in being extreme on this issue. Sen. Mark Kelly is the abortion radical.” Kelly is a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify almost 50 years of precedent for abortion protections under Roe v. Wade.

His position on Social Security

During a candidate forum in June, Masters suggested privatizing Social Security, according to The Associated Press. He now says he wants to protect Social Security for older and middle-aged workers while creating a private investment option for younger workers.