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Blake Masters, Trump pick funded by billionaire Thiel, wins Arizona Senate primary

Blake Masters, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Arizona, speaks on stage before President Donald Trump's speech at a Save America rally Friday, July 22, 2022, in Prescott, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Blake Masters, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Arizona, speaks on stage before President Donald Trump's speech at a Save America rally Friday, July 22, 2022, in Prescott, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Blake Masters will be the Republican candidate facing off against Arizona Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly in November in one of the most closely watchedraces that could determine control of the upper chamber of Congress.

Masters, a former chief operating officer of the investment firm Thiel Capital, won Tuesday's GOP primary handily, according to a race call by The Associated Press, beating out, among others, businessman Jim Lamon, state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Michael McGuire, a retired National Guard major general.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Masters in June. He secured the endorsement in part by contributing to the former president's conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Masters said in a recent interview that had he been a senator during the last election, he would have objected to the election certification that took place on Jan. 6, 2021, the day of the Capitol insurrection.

"I think what [Sen. Josh] Hawley and, I believe, what [Sen. Ted] Cruz did was right," Masters told NBC News. "I think their constituents had a lot of concerns."

Despite his relatively healthy lead in polls, Masters was largely outspent on television ads by his opponent Lamon. But Masters' campaign has been boosted by millions of dollars from Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and his longtime friend and boss.

Thiel also donated significantly to the campaign of Ohio GOP Senate primary winner J.D. Vance, who also secured an endorsement from Trump.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.