In campaign ads and stump speeches, Blake Masters plays Trump’s greatest hits. He complains about ‘waking up’, talks openly about the US decline and demands that the government complete construction of the wall on the southern border. But unlike Trump, Masters’ political ambitions rethink America in the eyes of Silicon Valley and one of its most powerful — and controversial — investors.
After Trump’s approval, Masters is poised to win Tuesday’s primary and become the next nominee for the GOP’s Arizona Senate. But his mentor Peter Thiel is casting a long shadow over his candidacy, raising the stakes to something much bigger than a single Senate seat. Over the past decade, Masters has studied under Thiel at Stanford, headed Thiel’s powerful investment firm, and co-authored the New York Times bestseller Zero to onea contrarian guide to Silicon Valley startup founders that denounces higher education and encourages monopolization.
Now that form of technical libertarianism has brought Masters into a political alliance with Donald Trump. Speaking at a Trump rally in Arizona late last month, Masters praised the previous administration and cursed the current president’s actions on inflation and border security.
“Everything is on fire under Joe Biden,” Masters warned. “Arizona, make me your candidate so we can beat Mark Kelly, put America first, and finish the work President Trump started.”
sen. Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, runs unopposed for the Democratic nomination after taking the seat of the late GOP Sen. John McCain (AZ) turned blue in a special election in 2020. Drawing on his background in science, Kelly has called for more drastic action to tackle climate change while defending federal rights programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which are popular with the older population of Arizona.
The master’s program, on the other hand, is relentlessly focused on privatization, where everything from social Security to the Arizona water sources under the company’s control. It is an approach closely linked to Thiel’s own political pessimism and belief in private interests. As Thiel put it in a 2009 essay“[t]The fate of our world may depend on the effort of a single person to build or propagate the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe from capitalism.”
When constructing his platform, Masters seems to be doing his best to take on that mantle, including his lofty language. During his last pre-primary rally, Masters an image tweeted of himself on stage with the short caption: “Undermining existing paradigms.”
The Thiel connection also helped Masters land Trump’s official endorsement last June, which was the biggest factor in his success. Famously on Trump’s transition team, Thiel has long cultivated the former president as an ally. In the wake of the approval, Masters jumped ahead in polls, leading by a whopping 15 points, according to Thirty-fiveEight on Monday. The numbers have given his campaign enough confidence to call Tuesday night’s election party a “victory party.”
While Masters never outright denied the 2020 results, Masters accused the Democrats of cheating. He was already beginning to cast doubt on the integrity of the midterm elections, suggesting that they would not be “fair”. according to CNN.
Masters has also sought support from the cryptocurrency world, taking early steps to accept Bitcoin donations and Auctioning NFTs to support the campaign. In September, he proposed that the US create a strategic reserve of Bitcoin, which he described as “Fort Nakamoto – the new Fort Knox.” In the months since the proposal, Bitcoin has fallen by more than 40 percent.
Masters’ own financial interests support that enthusiasm, showing extensive positions in a wide variety of cryptocurrencies. In October, Masters unveiled Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Tezos and Litecoin totaling millions of dollars, according to financial ethics files. He had also invested in Urbit star, a decentralized funding project launched by the controversial neo-reactionary Curtis Yarvin.
The current value of Masters crypto assets is unclear. His financial ethics form for 2022 was originally supposed to be submitted on May 17, but he requested an extension, making his new deadline August 15, just weeks after the primaries.
But while his Silicon Valley ties may seem unusual for a GOP candidate, they haven’t stopped Masters from being embraced by the conservative movement’s most prominent kingmakers — most recently in a primetime interview with Tucker Carlson on Monday night. The conversation centered on bread-and-butter Republican issues such as inflation and “insane” Democratic spending. “The responsible Democrats have failed,” Masters said. “They’re destroying this country, and then they’ll lie about it.”
At the end of their conversation, Carlson wished Masters good luck and offered something that was just short of approval. “We’re rooting for you, Blake Masters,” he said.