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Peter Thiel floods GOP 2022 races with money, makes candidates easy target

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel is pumping huge sums into some crucial 2022 midterm contests – and is drawing fire from Republicans keen to tie their rivals to Silicon Valley’s GOP bogeymen.

Why is this important: Whether supporting a candidate or being attacked by a candidate, Thiel embodies the current spirit of the GOP. His brand of nationalist conservatism mimics party change in the Trump era. Yet the fortune he uses to fund like-minded candidates comes from an industry vilified by much of that base.

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Thiel’s $ 10 million infusion into a super PAC Supporting the Ohio Senate bid by “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance represented his first major foray into the 2022 cycle. He also opened a line of attack.

  • In an interview last week, one of Vance’s main rivals, former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel punched Vance out for positioning himself against Big Tech as he “a guy who sits on the board of Facebook as its biggest political funder.”

  • Mandel declined to name Thiel. He also didn’t mention the multiple overtures he himself made to Thiel at the start of the campaign.

  • Text messages Axios reviewed show Mandel flagged his candidacy announcement for Thiel and followed up to request meetings with him in February and March. Thiel doesn’t seem to have answered.

  • Additional text messages show Mandel congratulating Thiel in 2018 on his portrayal in a New York Times profile. “I think by [sic] the grown-ups here in the Rust Belt agree with you, ”Mandel wrote.

What they say : “As JD Vance tries to talk tough with big tech, he depends on their money in every aspect of his life,” Mandel campaign manager Scott Guthrie said in an emailed statement.

  • “His campaign is funded by a member of the Facebook board, and his personal income from his venture capital firm comes from the former CEO of Google and the former CEO of AOL,” said Guthrie. “The people of Ohio know that JD Vance is a Never-Trumper and a fake whose bills are literally paid by big tech.”

Last week, the Washington Examiner reported Thiel is investing an additional $ 10 million in a super PAC supporting Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, an executive at the venture capital firm and Thiel’s foundation.

  • Although locally branded, Saving Arizona PAC’s focus so far appears to be national. His digital ads are running nationwide and make Masters the candidate who can tip the Senate majority in favor of Republicans.

  • The group’s website domain was registered by James Blair, a Republican consultant and former senior adviser to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Blair did not respond to inquiries about his role with the group.

In Missouri, Thiel put in a smaller amount – only $ 250,000 – in a super PAC supporting the Senate bid by State Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

  • Thiel also supported Schmitt’s predecessor as AG, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), During his Senate bid in 2018.

  • Hawley is now arguably Washington’s main supplier of the nationalist wing whose ranks Thiel hopes to grow in the next year.

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