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Jim Lamon speaks with supporters before the start of his town hall event at the Combs Performing Art Center in San Tan Valley, Ariz., on July 7, 2022.
Jim Lamon speaks with supporters before the start of his town hall event at the Combs Performing Art Center in San Tan Valley, Ariz., on July 7, 2022.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Self-funders help set fundraising pace of August Senate primaries

Two high-profile self-funders in Arizona and Wisconsin gave their campaigns big money ahead of next month's primaries

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Arizona Republican Jim Lamon and Wisconsin Democrat Alex Lasry bested their party-primary rivals in fundraising last quarter thanks to personal loans from the candidates that made up the vast majority of all they raised from April through June.

Lasry's $7 million haul came thanks in no small part to a $6.5 million loan from the candidate, an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. To put that loan in perspective, all of his Democratic primary rivals combined raised about $4 million over that same period (Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes led the rest of the field with $2.1 million).

And in Lamon's case, the businessman loaned his campaign $1 million of the $1.2 million he raised last quarter. Blake Masters, who is endorsed by former President Trump and works for billionaire Peter Thiel, raised $828,000; state Attorney General Mark Brnovich raised $527,000; and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael “Mick” McGuire raised $348,000.

The big loans underscore how much of an advantage a candidate's independent wealth can be, as having deep pockets largely plays dividends. Lamon's campaign operation has spent $13 million so far, more than his rivals combined, while Lasry's campaign has spent almost $15 million so far and also outspent all his rivals combined.

That said, money is just one piece of the puzzle — it's not always what propels a campaign to victory. Big self-funders in Ohio all lost the GOP Senate primary to JD Vance a few months back, and hedge fund executive David McCormick lost Pennsylvania's Senate primary to Mehmet Oz in a race where both men lent their campaign millions.