Arizona Senate candidates Masters, Lamon tackle America First label as primary heats up
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Blake Masters and Jim Lamon, who are vying for a chance to unseat Sen. Mark Kelly, have traded barbs as each claims to be the America First candidate in Arizona’s primary.
The race is particularly crucial, since Republicans, who hope to take control of the Senate after November’s midterm elections, view Kelly as vulnerable. Both candidates touted their MAGA good faith as a pitch for the primary as well as the general election, which Cook Political Report calls a toss up.
« I’ve created a lot of jobs in America, thousands of them, tens of thousands counting all the businesses I have, » Lamon told Fox News, touting his America First credentials. « Hire veterans first, give back philanthropically. »
But Masters emphasized his endorsement of former President Trump, a fact pasted on his campaign ads and on the back of his campaign van.
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“President Trump stood by me because he knows I will be the best to secure our border,” Masters told Fox News in an exclusive interview.
The former president is due to meet with Peter Thiel’s protege in Arizona on Saturday night. And during a debate earlier this week, Masters said Trump thought Lamon was a « bozo » after meeting him.
But Lamon, a former energy executive, said Trump was unaware of the claims against Masters at the time of his endorsement.
Jewish Insider reported that Masters had advocated for « unrestricted immigration » in blog posts published under a pseudonym in 2005. A single anonymous source told the publication that Masters, who would have been around 19 at the time , was the author.
« I don’t believe President Trump knows what we’ve found and seen in Jewish Insider and many other Masters publications since that endorsement, » said Lamon, who used the report in an attack ad. « One hundred percent for open borders, unrestricted immigration. »
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« Those kinds of things in Arizona are not Arizona values, » he added.
Masters told Fox News he didn’t remember writing the posts, although he said the screen name was the same as his college screen name.
« Like a lot of 19-year-olds, I thought I had the whole world figured out, and it turns out I haven’t, » Masters said. « Some of these opinions are obviously very childish, and in my adult life I’ve become much wiser. »
« If that’s the best my opponents can do, that’s crazy, » he continued.
Both candidates have identified border security as a major issue and are taking a tough stance.
« We love immigration from a legal standpoint, but this rate is just crazy, » Lamon, who has endorsements from the Border Patrol union and several law enforcement organizations, told Fox News. « It has to be stopped. »
He added that Staying in Mexico must be enshrined in law, since the Supreme Court stood with the Biden administration to end the policy. The Trump-era order required immigrants to stay in Mexico pending a decision on asylum claims.
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The masters, meanwhile, have promised to pass a bill that strengthens border security through measures such as increasing the size of the Border Patrol and finishing off the wall, although he said that President Biden would veto this type of legislation.
« My job in the United States Senate will simply be to block Biden’s agenda, » Masters told Fox News. « Biden won’t get anything — not a single appointee, not a single long-term finance bill — unless and until we start building the border wall again. »
Both Masters and Lamon have attacked Kelly, Biden and Democrats in general for the influx of illegal immigrants into Arizona, among other issues facing the nation such as violent crime, fentanyl overdoses and inflation.
“Joe Biden fabricated this border crisis,” Masters told Fox News, adding that Arizonans from all political backgrounds were “pissed” about it.
« It’s not just people, of course… It’s also fentanyl, drugs, crime, » he continued. « So we have to close the border. That’s priority number one. »
Both Masters and Lamon argued that Kelly was a progressive rather than a moderate Democrat, and said he supported open borders.
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« He votes like Bernie Sanders, » Masters told Fox News. « He claims to be a moderate, but he’s setting a hyper-left voting record. »
Both Republicans pointed to Kelly’s voting record. The Democrat has voted with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer 96% of the time since 2021 and 92% of the time with Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to ProPublica.
“When we expose it for who it is and we expose it for the votes it got in the Senate and then we run on this common sense agenda of border security, mental health in schools, low inflation, America’s economy first, I think we’re going to crush Mark Kelly, » Masters said.
A spokesperson for Kelly’s campaign declined to comment. She did, however, provide Fox News with the steps the senator has taken, such as funding improved border security, raising Border Patrol salaries and introducing bipartisan legislation to retain the title. 42.
The spokesperson also pointed to Kelly’s criticism of Biden on issues such as inflation.
Masters faced critical media attention several times during his run. Last month, for example, the candidate faced backlash after saying « black people, frankly, » are often the cause of gun violence.
“Most of the victims of gun murders in this country are black males,” Masters told Fox News. « I think it’s horrible and no one is trying to help or fix this situation. »
« Most gun murderers in this country are black men, and Republicans don’t want to talk about that because they’re afraid of being called racist, » Masters added.
Half of homicide perpetrators and 56% of victims in 2020 were black, according to FBI data, although the dataset does not include all murders nationwide because some police departments do not provide not their office numbers.
« All I did was point out that Democrats don’t care about real crime, » Masters said. “They would like to disarm law-abiding citizens…but they turn a blind eye to real violent crimes.”
« I don’t care if the media calls me a racist. Everyone knows they’re bulls—, » Masters said. « I’m proud of what I said. »
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Still, Masters took a lead in the polls after Trump endorsed him in June, with the most recent poll showing a seven-point lead over Lamon.
« That’s why my opponents are getting more and more desperate, » Masters told Fox News.
Lamon disputed the poll and cited his own survey that showed him leading the race. He also doubted Masters’ preference would continue to improve after Trump’s first endorsement bump.
Both candidates told Fox News they were confident they could defeat Kelly despite polls showing the incumbent holding a noticeable advantage in hypothetical matchups. They also challenged the idea that Arizona is a purple state.
« It’s still pretty Republican, » Masters said. « These independents…they’re all watching what’s going on and they just want a leadership change. »
In the polls, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and retired General Mick McGuire are at the bottom of the pack.
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Brnovich was not made available for an in-person interview. But in a statement provided through a campaign official, the attorney general said he was the only candidate capable of beating Kelly and that « we’ve seen the damage that sending in the wrong people can do. » in Washington ».
A McGuire campaign official touted the former general’s leadership and military credentials.
Arizona’s primary is Aug. 2, although early voting has already begun.
Megan Myers contributed to this report.