The Arizona Republican nominee has pushed false conspiracy theories about the last election while fighting to make it harder to participate in future ones.
Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters has the "complete and total" endorsement of former President Donald Trump; like Trump, he opposes legislation that would protect voting rights and supports democracy and he promotes the Trump-backed "big lie" conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was "stolen."
Masters is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November. Kelly is running for his first complete term since winning a 2020 special election to complete the remaining term of the late Republican Sen. John McCain. Masters' campaign is being largely financed by conservative billionaire Peter Thiel via direct donations to his campaign and to a super PAC and via fundraisers he's hosted. Masters previously worked for two of Thiel's companies.
By contrast, Kelly voluntarily forgoes corporate political action committee donations and has pushed to ban them entirely. He has earned a 96% score, "A" rating, and reelection endorsement from End Citizens United and Let America Vote, a nonprofit organization that works to "fix our democracy by getting big money out of politics and protecting the right to vote."
In nearly two years in office, Kelly has consistently backed voting rights and campaign finance reform. He voted for the For the People Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the DISCLOSE Act, all unsuccessful proposals to expand the right to vote and reform the campaign finance system.
While Masters has never served in office, he has expressed his views on voting rights and reforms.
A Masters campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Opposes voting rights protections
Masters has denounced bills that would restore and update the protections enshrined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and bring representation in Congress to Americans currently lacking any.
In a section on his campaign site with the heading "Secure Our Elections," Masters says: "Stop the Democrats’ crazy 'Voting Rights' bills. Every American adult already has the right to vote. When the left pushes new 'voting rights,' laws, really they just want to make it easier to cheat."
Masters' claim that all American adults have the right to vote is inaccurate. While the 15th, 19th, and 26th amendments to the Constitution protect voters from being outright denied the opportunity to vote based on race, sex, or age, they all state, "Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." Many American adults, including formerly and currently imprisoned people, some disabled people, and citizens residing in American territories and the District of Columbia, do not have the same voting rights as other citizens or equal representation in Congress.
Several GOP-controlled states have recently passed voter suppression laws that make it harder to vote. The Supreme Court has overturned or restricted enforcement of some provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In January, Masters tweeted that he was opposed to changing the Senate's filibuster rules to allow Democrats to pass legislation addressing voter suppression. "This isn't an 'exception' for 'voting rights.' Kelly wants to nuke the filibuster so the left can federalize elections, add new states (with D senators) to the Union, and pack the Supreme Court," he claimed, deeming that possibility "the end of America as we know it."
In July 2021, he told Fox News:
Everything is at stake here in this 2022 and 2024 election. I really think, if Republicans don't win these elections, we lose the country forever, because if you look around, the left and the Democrats, they have taken control of almost every major institution in our country. … They're going to federalize elections, so no Republican can ever win again. They want to add new states to our union, just so they can add more senators and control everything.
Calls for a national voter ID law and restriction of voter accessibility tools
Several states have adopted voter ID laws, requiring voters to prove their identity by presenting certain types of photo identification when casting a ballot. While conservatives argue such laws are necessary to combat widespread impersonation voter fraud — based on largely debunked and false claims exaggerated by Republicans — in reality these laws work to suppress voter turnout, especially by voters of color.
Masters proposes, "To vote in a federal election, you should have to show a state- or federal-issued photo ID, period."
In February, he tweeted, "We can talk about making election day a federal holiday after we start requiring voter ID and stop sending out millions of unsolicited mail-in ballots."
Discussing mail-in ballots during an interview on Tucson radio station KNST on April 25, Masters said: "I think, you know, maybe Election Day should be a holiday, but it should be Election Day, not election season, not election month. Everybody should be voting on more or less the same set of information. And apparently we need to do that in person to make sure it's secure. So I would support that development."
Masters has also urged a rollback of existing rules designed to make voting easy for citizens. "State legislatures must pass laws banning drop boxes and ending indiscriminate mass mailing of ballots," his campaign website states.
A survey of state election officials conducted by the Associated Press in July found no documented cases of fraud or ballot tampering specifically related to the use of ballot drop boxes in the 2020 election.
Supports having fewer people vote
Masters embraced the idea that having fewer people vote is better for America in a November 2021 interview with Keith Knight of the Libertarian Institute.
Asked about the claim "The masses in every nation are by every metric rationally ignorant about politics. We need less people voting, not more," Masters responded:
Well, I want more people voting if, and only if, they're, like, you know, informed and know what's going on. I'd rather have fewer people vote, but have those votes, you know, sort of be informed and intelligent than just more people. So the "We need to get more people voting no matter what" thing, that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think you want more people to vote, and you want more people to be informed, and ideally those go together. In practice, I think with ballot harvesting, you know, a lot of the Democrat operative tricks, they don't want them to go together. They just want the raw number of votes because it gets them more ammo.
If voters are voting for tyranny, like, all of a sudden, voting's not so good, is it, you know? … I do think the left just makes too much of raw democracy, raw votes. And I think we need to focus on making sure that our public is educated, making sure that people are actually thinking about politics in a substantive way, because just the proceduralism of mere casting votes is not going to save us.
Spread lies that Trump won the 2020 election
President Joe Biden defeated Trump in November 2020 by more than 7 million popular votes and by a 306-232 Electoral College margin. Masters, like Trump, has continued to insist that Biden was not the legitimate winner.
In a September 2021 tweet, Masters dismissed the failed effort by Arizona Republicans to find evidence of significant election fraud after their "audit" reexamining the results in the state's most populous county: "No matter what the audit finds, we know this election wasn't fair. It wasn't perfect. It was a mess six ways from Sunday, well before Election Day. And Democrats got away with it because they ignore or change the rules to work to their advantage."
In a 2021 campaign video, Masters said: "I think Trump won in 2020. Maybe you disagree, but you gotta admit this election was really messed up. … Trump wins big in a fair fight."
In March, Masters tweeted that if Trump's former Attorney General Bill Barr had "done his job in 2020, President Trump would be in the Oval today, and the world wouldn't be falling apart. Instead, Barr was off planning his fake, tabloid-tier gossip book. Shameful."
Defended participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection
Masters defended the thousands of angry Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent certification of Biden's win in the Electoral College in the 2020 election and minimized the harm that resulted, which included millions of dollars' worth of damage to public property; the delay of the joint session of Congress; and the deaths of multiple law enforcement officials.
In a video released on the first anniversary of the riot, Masters complained that Democrats and the media focused on it too much — and denied that it had been an insurrection at all:
One year later and, of course, the left is having a field day. Biden is up there crying about how Jan. 6th is the dagger at the throat of our democracy. But it wasn't. It wasn't a coup. It wasn't an insurrection. This was trespassing. President Trump told people to be peaceful. The building did not have enough security. And yes, some protesters got in and became trespassers. But most of these people were not violent. They weren't violent at all. And they should be getting community service, not four years in solitary confinement. So it is outrageous that people are being hunted down and treated like terrorists. … This is banana republic stuff.
In a radio interview in November 2021, Masters justified the Trump supporters' actions:
"If we exercise self-defense, you know, do some trespass into the Capitol building, even though a lot of times they were sort of let in, and you're in solitary confinement for six months? This weaponization of the DOJ, I mean, if we let it continue and I think that means if we don't win back power in 2022 and 2024, then you no longer have a free country anymore and things start to get really scary."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.