Former President Trump on Thursday endorsed Blake Masters in the race for the GOP Senate nomination in Arizona, giving the 35-year-old venture capitalist a clear way to separate himself from his rivals in the competitive contest.
The announcement doubled as a chance for Mr. Trump to slam Attorney General Mark Brnovich for refusing to fully embrace his claim the 2020 election in Arizona was stolen.
“Blake knows that the ‘Crime of the Century’ took place, he will expose it and also, never let it happen again,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “It is my great honor to give Blake Masters my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Arizona has been the focus of Mr. Trump‘s stolen election allegations.
President Biden carried the state by fewer than 10,000 votes, marking the first time since 1996 that a Democrat won the state in a presidential race.
At the same time, Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, won the special election to fill out the remainder of late Sen. John McCain’s term, helping Democrats seize control of the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Kelly is now seeking a full six-year term.
Mr. Masters and Mr. Brnovich along with businessman Jim Lamon, and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire are running for the Republican nomination.
In his announcement Thursday, Mr. Trump said the business background of Mr. Masters, who serves as president of the Thiel Foundation and Principal at Thiel Capital, stood out, describing him as “a great modern-day thinker!”
“Blake is Strong on Border Security, in particular, the disastrous Southern Border where people are pouring into the U.S. by the millions, and destroying our Country,” Mr. Trump said. “Additionally, he will Cut Taxes and Regulations, be Tough on Crime, and Support our Military and our Vets.”
“Blake will fight for our totally under-siege Second Amendment, and WIN!” he said.
Thiel Capital founder Peter Thiel, a billionaire who co-founded PayPal, has spent millions on behalf of Mr. Masters in the race. Mr. Thiel also threw his financial support early on behind J.D. Vance’s successful bid for the GOP Senate nomination in Ohio. Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Vance toward the tail end of that race.
The other GOP candidates in Arizona also were eager to win Mr. Trump‘s blessing ahead of the Aug. 2 primary — so the endorsement news frustrated Mr. Masters’ rivals.
Mr. Lamon predicted Mr. Masters will be “shred to pieces” by Mr. Kelly if he wins the nomination.
“As a staunch supporter of President Trump’s America First policies, I am especially disappointed in his endorsement, but I don’t think Arizonans will nominate someone whose candidacy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Big Tech, California billionaire, and who spent the majority of his adult life living and working in Silicon Valley until just a few years ago,” Mr. Lamon said in a statement.
Brnovich spokesman Brandon Urness said his boss has proven to be “one of the leading Attorneys General in the country on issues of election integrity” and “will continue to protect every voter in Arizona from fraud.”
“Brnovich intends to fight and win this Primary Election and we look forward to working with President Trump to defeat Mark Kelly this fall,” Mr. Urness said.
Mr. Trump doesn’t seem too interested in that prospect after reserving close to half of his endorsement announcement to attack Mr. Brnovich.
Mr. Brnovich dismissed the claims of rampant voter fraud after the 2020 election and certified the results of the election alongside Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel.
Mr. Brnovich has since tried to work himself back into Mr. Trump‘s good graces.
He produced an “interim” report this year that raised questions about Maricopa County results, saying investigators found “serious vulnerabilities.”
The Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors countered that Mr. Brnovich did not investigate or report his findings honestly, and said the 2020 election was “fair” and “results indisputable.”
Mr. Trump on Thursday made it clear he‘s not happy with Mr. Brnovich for an entirely different reason.
“Mark Brnovich is such a disappointment to me,” he said. “He is the current Arizona Attorney General, and while he understands what took place in the 2020 Presidential Election, and that it was Rigged and Stolen, he only views it as something he would like not to see happen again.”