While struggling to articulate a clear position on the election, Brnovich lost his lead, according to four public and internal polls conducted last month. He was surpassed by wealthy solar energy executive Jim Lamon, a self-financier who spent $3.8 million on ads ahead of the Aug. 2 primary.
An internal Lamon poll obtained by POLITICO shows him with a three-point lead over Brnovich, putting Lamon at 25%, Brnovich at 22%, Blake Masters at 16% and Mick McGuire at 6%, while 31% remain undecided.
The poll, conducted April 21-24 by McLaughlin & Associates, is consistent with other polls conducted since April 1 by The Trafalgar Group, Remington Research Group and Data Orbital.
Meanwhile, Trump has shown an interest in Masters, an associate of billionaire tech executive Peter Thiel who resigned from Thiel’s leading venture capital firm in March. On Saturday night, Trump called in to address a crowd gathered at an election integrity event Masters hosted in Chandler. The public show of support for Masters, although not an official endorsement, came a week after the former president slammed Brnovich for refusing to take action to address his unsubstantiated claims. widespread voter fraud in the state.
“I heard Blake was the person who showed up,” Trump said through a cellphone broadcast to the crowd. “And I want to thank Blake.”
Masters had challenged Brnovich to debate him on election integrity issues, although Brnovich declined to participate in the event. Lamon was not invited.
In early April, Brnovich’s office released an interim report on the status of its months-long investigation into the 2020 election in Maricopa County, where Trump alleged massive voter fraud occurred.
Although Brnovich wrote in the report that there were “serious vulnerabilities” in the electoral process, he did not present evidence of widespread fraud or claim that the election result was different. He said his office’s investigation would continue.
Trump took note of the report, issuing a statement nearly two weeks later accusing Brnovich of “political correctness” for taking no substantial action to challenge the election results.
“Because of the length of time it took him to write the report, which was interminable, his poll numbers quickly dropped,” Trump wrote of Brnovich on April 18. the problem, it seems to do nothing about it – it doesn’t give the answers.
Trump’s approach to Brnovich is similar to his approach to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, whom Trump also criticized for supporting certification of the state’s 2020 election results. He berated Ducey for months until Ducey confirmed earlier this year that he would not seek the GOP Senate nomination, despite being encouraged by National Republicans to do so.
After Trump’s comments in April, Brnovich released his own statement suggesting he doesn’t mean unequivocally that the Arizona election was fraudulent.
“I understand his frustration, but as I said previously, I will continue to follow the facts and the evidence and do what the law requires,” Brnovich said at the time. “It’s what I have always done and what I will continue to do as the next senator from Arizona.”
Brnovich’s campaign declined to respond to a request for comment for this story.
If Trump continues to make the GOP candidates’ rhetoric on voter fraud the main criteria for his approval decision in the Arizona Senate primary, Lamon will likely be at a disadvantage as well.
Lamon didn’t go as far as Masters in insisting on stealing the last presidential election. Days before Trump attended a November Masters fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, Masters posted a video saying “I think Trump won 2020.”
While Lamon helped fund a partisan audit of the Maricopa County election results and said he believed there were significant election irregularities that should be corrected, he maintains there weren’t. not enough information uncovered to know if Biden’s victory in the state was fraudulent.
Richard Grenell, Trump’s former acting director of national intelligence, and two other Lamon surrogates have spoken to Trump about him in the past two weeks, according to a person familiar with the conversations, although there is no no clear indication that Trump was interested in Lamon. . His last visit with Trump was at the end of the year, Lamon’s campaign confirmed.
Despite being a statewide elected official, Brnovich has not shown strength in fundraising.
In the first quarter of the year, Brnovich spent more than he collected. And of its half-million dollars available at the end of the term, less than $175,000 can be spent on the primary, according to FEC data.
These limits on individual donation amounts do not exist for self-financiers, which means Lamon can use nearly all of his available $7 million for the primary. And he intends to invest “many more millions,” on top of the $13 million Lamon has already invested, his campaign confirmed to POLITICO, declining to specify exactly how much Lamon is willing to spend on the race. Lamon said in a private meeting last year that he intended to spend up to $50 million to win the Senate seat.
Masters, meanwhile, has refused to be self-funding and is raising money from individual donors, while benefiting from the $3.5 million that Saving Arizona — a Thiel-funded super PAC — has spent on him on advertising. Thiel pledged $10 million to the effort. Lamon’s campaign has spent roughly the same amount on TV ads so far, while Brnovich has stayed off the air.
“Our campaign has steadily risen in the polls, as Blake outpaces his opponents in events, media and fundraising,” said Amalia Halikias, campaign manager for Masters. “Brnovich had an initial advantage in name identification, but it’s quickly dropping. Lamon has spent his millions, but there’s a limit to what an out-of-touch, unsympathetic guy can buy. We’re on track to win in August and November.
In Ohio, Trump recently endorsed JD Vance, who like Masters is backed by Thiel and has lagged in the polls for much of the primary campaign. Trump’s endorsement appears to have given Vance a last-minute boost in the polls ahead of Tuesday’s state primary, in addition to fundraising assistance. Within days of the approval, more than $5 million was poured into a pro-Vance super PAC, including a new $3.5 million donation from Thiel.