The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee closely aligned with GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is canceling $9.6 million of TV ads for Arizona Republican nominee Blake Masters, according to Axios. Other Republican-aligned groups appear to be stepping in to fill the void.
Arizona was identified early as a top target for the GOP, as Republicans hope to flip the seat in their bid to retake control of the U.S. Senate. Masters is challenging Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races in the nation, despite the spending disparity between the two parties in the state.
Democrats bought almost $40 million worth of ads to air between now and Election Day, according to reporting from Politico last week, while Republicans have only purchased $14 million to date.
The Senate Leadership Fund’s withdrawal means that none of McConnell’s fundraising money will be spent this year in Arizona. Last month, the GOP leader told reporters that Republicans may not regain control of the Senate this year due to problems with candidate quality.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different,” McConnell said. “Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
Kelly continues to enjoy a slight polling advantage over Masters with less than two months to go in the midterm race. However, Republicans don’t appear to have given up yet.
Arizona’s designation as an election battleground state is attracting multiple other conservative-aligned PACs to fill the void left by McConnell. Politico reports that the Sentinel Action Fund will spend $3.5 million on television ads in the state. Other GOP-aligned PACs are also funneling money to support Masters, including Our American Century at $1 million, $887,000 from The National Republican Senatorial Committee and $330,000 from Club for Growth, among others.
“Arizona is the center of the fight for America’s soul,” the president of Sentinel Action Fund told Politico. “It is time for every corner of the conservative coalition to deploy every resource to win the Senate and show up to support our conservative candidates like Blake Masters.”
McConnell still plans to hold a fundraiser for Masters next week according to media reports, despite the super PAC aligned with him pulling millions out of the race.
Senate Leadership Fund president Steven Law told Axios he’s reallocating the money originally earmarked for Arizona for races in Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada. “This allows us to pursue offensive opportunities, maximize our investment in existing commitments, and concentrate our efforts to win the Senate majority,” Law said.