GOP candidate Blake Masters is reportedly planning to run for Senate again in Arizona.
But two of his closest ideological allies — Josh Hawley and JD Vance — declined to formally back him.
"I've got to focus on my own race," said Hawley. Kari Lake may also run for the Arizona Senate seat.
If Blake Masters mounts a second campaign for Senate in Arizona, he may be going it alone this time.
The 2022 GOP Senate nominee — who lost to Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly by nearly five percentage points last year — is planning to run for Senate again, according to the Wall Street Journal and POLITICO.
Masters won the GOP primary in 2022 with the endorsement of not just former President Donald Trump, but Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who Masters has frequently named as being the senator he most agrees with.
"Josh Hawley is calling me saying, 'give me some backup!'" Masters told attendees at an event in Apache Junction last year while condemning Big Tech. "He's the only one in the US Senate who really understands this stuff."
But Hawley, who encouraged Masters to run last cycle, told Insider that he hasn't spoken to the Arizona Republican about a second campaign, and was unaware that he planned to run again. And he said that while he's a "big fan" of Masters, he'd be "really surprised" if he got involved in the Arizona Senate race this cycle.
"I've got to focus on my own race in Missouri," he said. "I wasn't up for re-election last time."
"I thought he was a great candidate, I thought he worked really hard," Hawley also said. "I wish he were here serving."
Masters did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
Both Masters and Republican Sen. JD Vance of Ohio won their primary elections in 2022 with the help of billionaire Peter Thiel, who spent tens of millions of dollars funding super PACs supporting each candidate. But Thiel has recently indicated that he plans to withdraw from political spending.
Thiel, Hawley, Vance, and Masters are each affiliated to some extent with the "New Right," a growing populist movement within the Republican Party that's critical of corporate power and the excesses of capitalism, more openly nationalistic, and more socially conservative than other strands of Republicanism.
But Vance isn't ready to endorse Masters either, despite calling him a "good friend" and acknowledging that Masters is "thinking hard about" mounting a second campaign.
"We have not talked details about him running this cycle, but I think that he's a great guy that has a great future in the party, and in the movement," said Vance. "Let's see what he actually wants to do first, and I'll make decisions about who I'm endorsing once candidates actually enter the race."
One of those candidates — and the elephant in the room in any discussion about the 2024 GOP primary for Senate in Arizona — is Kari Lake.
'Still a lot of time for that race to shape up'
Lake, the failed 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee and Trump acolyte who has contested the results of her own election, remains popular with the Republican base. She has repeatedly said that she's considering a Senate bid, and earlier this year, she met with several GOP senators in Washington as she mulled a run, including Vance.
A Masters campaign could put him on a collision course with Lake, an erstwhile ally during the 2022 campaign. Still, the 2024 election could offer the GOP nominee a better chance at winning a Senate seat in Arizona than last time.
While incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has not said whether she will seek re-election, she's fundraising as if she is, and the race could ultimately develop into a three-way contest between the Democrat-turned-Independent, a Republican, and presumptive Democratic nominee Rep. Ruben Gallego.
However, Masters' campaign was seen by some as the embodiment of Senate Republicans' "candidate quality" problem in 2022, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has frequently mentioned Arizona as being among the states where Republicans failed to nominate the right candidate.
"We underperformed among independents and moderates because their impression of many of the people in our party, and leadership roles, is that they're dogged in chaos, negativity, excessive attacks," McConnell told reporters in November. "And it frightened independent and moderate Republican voters."
Masters, for his part, recently argued that Republicans — including himself — did not raise enough money to compete in the state.
"I needed to raise a lot more to be competitive, and I will in any future race," said Masters. "But part of it is on the Republican Party and its affiliated super PACs and donor networks."
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the chairman of Senate Republicans' campaign arm, told Insider that he'd spoken to Masters about running but otherwise said little about the Arizona Republican's potential candidacy.
"Arizona is going to be one of the most competitive Senate races in the country," said Daines, adding there's "still a lot of time for that race to shape up."
And Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ted Cruz of Texas, both of whom campaigned for Masters after he became the nominee, also demurred when asked about a second run.
"That'll be for the voters of Arizona to decide," said Cruz.
"Seems like a nice guy," said Graham, adding "I don't know, I hope so" when asked if Masters can win.
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