A Super PAC backing Arizona GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters has launched a roughly $2 million ad campaign targeting his opponent, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. — a sign that spending on Masters' behalf may ratchet up in the campaign's closing weeks.
The 30-second spot, purchased by the pro-Masters Saving Arizona PAC, targets Kelly over undocumented immigration and criminal justice. It's airing for 10 days on broadcast television in the Phoenix media market.
Kelly "wants Arizonans to believe that he is some sort of moderate Democrat, despite voting in near lockstep with Joe Biden and the radical left," Andy Surabian, a senior adviser to the PAC, said in a statement.
The ad namely targets Kelly over his support for the American Rescue Plan, under which some inmates were eligible for stimulus checks. Kelly also voted down an amendment that would have denied the payments to incarcerated Americans. Of note, earlier pandemic relief packages backed on a bipartisan basis did not bar inmates from receiving stimulus checks.
"Are you here illegally but need help getting your taxpayer benefits?" the narrator says. "Are you an inmate that wants your Biden stimulus check? Mark Kelly is here to help."
The PAC has been off the air in recent weeks prior to launching its new spot. Saving Arizona spent more than 15 million backing Masters in the primary, funded largely by tech mogul and billionaire Peter Thiel. The PAC told NBC News this ad buy was not funded with Thiel money, as he has not made a contribution to the group since before the August primary.
The Arizona Senate race, one of this cycle’s most hotly contested, has featured recent spending cuts from the top Republican Super PAC. The Senate Leadership Fund, aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced it was cutting $8 million in spending on the race in August before saying last month it was canceling nearly $10 million it had reserved on the air in the campaign's closing weeks.
Kelly has heavily outspent Masters on the air, with AdImpact tracking showing Kelly and his aligned forces have spent more than double what his opponent has since the Aug. 2 primary, with Kelly and his backers spending more than $48 million compared to north of $20 million on Masters' behalf.
That disparity is even more stark in the run-up to Election Day, as Kelly and his allies have booked more than $19 million from Thursday through the election while the pro-Masters forces have so-far booked about $4 million, according to AdImpact tracking.