Political vitriol is at a fever pitch around the country as the race for control of Congress enters the final stretch.
In the U.S. Senate, 35 seats out of 100 are up for re-election on Nov. 8, with Democrats currently controlling 14 of those seats and Republicans controlling 21.
Fifteen of the 35 seats up for re-election are considered “Solid Republican” by the Cook Political Report—nine are “Solid Democrat;” three on each side lean “D” and “R,” and one is “Likely R.” Only four are considered a “toss-up.”
These “toss-up” seats have drawn the nation’s eyes as they’ll determine who controls the U.S. Senate going into 2023. One of those seats is in Arizona, where Republican candidate Blake Masters hopes to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
Fight for Control
Right now, Democrats control 48 Senate seats, and Republicans control 50. However, there are two independent seats, and they caucus with Democrats, effectively dividing the Senate 50/50 and giving Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote. She votes with the Democrats, giving Democrats a working majority.
Because the margin of control is razor-thin, if Republicans net just one of the toss-up seats on Nov. 8, they’ll gain control of the Senate with 51 seats. For Democrats to solidify their Senate control, they’ll need to successfully flip a “Leans R” or “Likely R” seat.
From 1952 to just before the 2020 elections, Arizona was considered a reliably “Red” state despite Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in 2018. In 2016, Donald Trump won the state by 3.6 percentage points.
But in 2020, President Joe Biden won the state of Arizona by 0.3 percentage points. And in a November 2020 special election, Kelly successfully defeated incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) by 2.4 percent.
Despite the more recent power switch, three independent election forecasters rate the upcoming Arizona Senate election as a “toss-up,” with Masters and Kelly duking it out in the polls. Emerson College Polling on Sep. 9 showed Kelly at 47 percent, Masters at 45 percent, and five percent of voters were undecided.
Marc Victor, a Libertarian, is also running for Arizona’s Senate seat, but he’s considered a long shot.
Kelly vs. Masters
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Kelly’s campaign has trounced Masters in both contributions and spending.
Kelly raised just over $54.14 million and spent close to $30.8 million, while Masters raised just under $5 million and spent just over $3.4 million. Kelly contributed nothing from his personal funds, while Masters contributed just under $14,100.
Part of the above discrepancy in financing is because up until Aug. 2, Masters ran in Arizona’s primary against four other contenders, while Kelly ran unopposed.
For the Republican primary, Jim Lamon raised over $15 million in donations, according to the FEC, Mark Brnovich raised just under $3.1 million, Michael McGuire raised just under $2.5 million, and Justin Olson raised $318,570.
But Lamon’s dominating contributions and spending weren’t enough to defeat Masters. On Aug. 2, Trump-backed Masters won the Republican nomination with 39 percent of the vote. Second-place finisher Lamon received 28.8 percent.
To bolster Masters, on Sep. 12, the Sentinel Action Fund, an independent conservative Super PAC and partner organization of Heritage Action for America, announced $5 million for Masters. It also officially endorsed Masters for Arizona’s U.S. Senate Seat.
“Blake Masters will always put America first and never stop fighting for the people of Arizona. We are thrilled to endorse his candidacy and announce a new $5 million commitment to help fight back against the radical Left’s agenda embodied by Senator Mark Kelly,” Jessica Anderson, president of the Sentinel Action Fund, said in a press release.
In 2020, Kelly’s campaign focused on bipartisanship and a willingness to “work across the aisle.” In 2021, Axios rated him the “most bipartisan Senate Democratic Freshman” as 28.3 percent of the bills he introduced had an opposite-party sponsor.
On the other hand, FiveThirtyEight reported Kelly voted in line with President Biden’s position 94.4 percent of the time, and voted for partisan measures that increased Affordable Care Act Subsidies, expanded firearm regulations, and supported vaccine mandates. He also advocated establishing a commission to investigate Jan. 6, voiced support for Build Back Better, and wanted to get rid of the filibuster.
Masters, on the other hand, is a political newcomer as he hasn’t held elected office before. However, he worked on President Trump’s transition team in 2016. He said on his website that he “saw firsthand how deep The Swamp really is and how establishment forces immediately tried to undermine President Trump’s MAGA agenda.”
According to his campaign website, Masters is running to help fix a broken Washington and declining America. His position doesn’t promise bipartisanship and echoes Trump’s approach of taking on not only progressive ideology but also “compromised RINO Republicans.”
“America is in decline and the world is a dangerous place. Blake uniquely understands the modern threats that we face.
“At home, we see an unholy alliance between Big Government, Big Tech, and Big Business, who collude to wreak havoc on our economy, destroy our border, impose their radically liberal ideology on our culture, and censor any dissent.”
The Epoch Times reached out to both Kelly and Masters and is waiting to hear back.