But since the two candidates won their respective nominations, Thiel has not stepped up with additional investments as Vance and Masters have struggled to raise money on their own — while both have been massively outraised by their Democratic rivals. The disparity has prompted Republican observers to question why Thiel has so far refused to help his chosen candidates in the general election through a big donation to a super PAC.
“This is a Thiel problem that has a Thiel solution,” said Liam Donovan, a Republican lobbyist and strategist. “Anybody that emerged from these primaries with 30% was going to need help. The difference here is there’s a patron that has the capacity to help.”
Washington Republicans tell CNN the particular problems in Ohio and Arizona reflect larger issues that are hurting the GOP’s Senate hopes. President Joe Biden’s slightly improving approval rating, a Democratic base energized by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and lower gas prices have limited an already narrow window for Republicans to take back the majority after losing it in 2021. High-risk candidates and a Senate map with plenty of GOP seats to defend complicate the situation, as does Trump’s own unwillingness to use his hefty war chest to help the Republican effort.
Poor fundraising from Thiel’s twin champions, meanwhile, does not mean the campaigns are doomed. Every Republican who spoke to CNN expressed confidence Vance would defeat Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio and that Masters remains competitive against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in a sharply divided Arizona. But their money deficits further limit where Republicans can make crucial decisions about where to spend finite dollars in the final months of the midterms.
“Candidates need to understand that winning the majority is a team sport, and when you aren’t getting the job done in your race, it affects candidates in other races,” said one Republican operative who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “Republicans aren’t playing with monopoly money here. … Outside groups will never be able to equalize the playing field. It really makes it difficult.”
Without a new infusion of cash, the poor fundraising from Vance and Masters has prompted a shift in Republican outside spending. The leadership-aligned Senate Leadership Fund announced last week it would cancel $8 million in ad reservations in Arizona in September and instead spend an additional $28 million in Ohio to shore up Vance. The super PAC still has ad time reserved in Arizona throughout the month of October.
“We’re leaving the door wide open in Arizona but we want to move additional resources to other offensive opportunities that have become increasingly competitive, as well as an unexpected expense in Ohio,” Steven Law, the president of SLF, said in a statement last …….