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HomePoliticsPeter Thiel picks Masters, Vance see mixed results in Arizona, Ohio

Peter Thiel picks Masters, Vance see mixed results in Arizona, Ohio

Peter Thiel, president and founder of Clarium Capital Management LLC, speaks during the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, April 7, 2022.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Billionaire and Republican megadonor Peter Thiel’s $32 million investment in the 2022 midterm elections saw mixed results, as two of his former employees split U.S. Senate races that will help to decide control of the chamber.

In Ohio, Republican J.D. Vance defended a GOP-held seat against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. While Thiel notably opted against funding Vance in the general election in the increasingly red state, his $15 million donation to a pro-Vance super PAC helped the candidate emerge from a crowded GOP primary to replace the retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Vance once worked at investment firm Mithril Capital, which Thiel co-founded.

Thiel instead opted to pile more money into Republican Blake Masters’ bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona. Kelly beat back the challenge, NBC News projected, as he led Masters by more than 5 percentage points. With Kelly’s win, Democrats need to prevail in one of the two uncalled races in Nevada and Georgia to keep their majority.

Thiel took a particular interest in helping Masters, who once was chief operating officer at Thiel Capital. The venture capitalist, who has an estimated net worth of over $4 billion, hosted fundraisers and actively used his extensive network to raise money for the Masters campaign in the final months of the election.

Thiel jolted Masters’ Senate bid early on with a $15 million donation to a pro-Masters super PAC during Arizona’s primary election, according to Federal Election Commission records. He gave another $2.5 million to the PAC in October, just weeks before Election Day.

Thiel chipped in smaller amounts to other Republican congressional candidates around the country during the midterms. The recipients were mostly incumbents running in safe House seats.

The PayPal co-founder gave $2,900 during the primaries to Republican Rep. Ted Budd, who defeated Democrat Cheri Beasley in the race to become North Carolina’s next U.S. senator. The amount is the most an individual can legally give to a campaign itself — as opposed to a pro-candidate PAC — in the primary or general election.

Thiel donated to seven other midterm candidates in races NBC News has projected. Only one of those candidates lost, according to NBC.

Republican Joe Budd, who saw two $2,900 checks from Thiel, lost to Democrat Jared Moskowitz in a battle to represent Florida’s 23rd congressional district, according to NBC News. One of those contributions was earmarked for Budd’s successful primary run and the other for his general election fight against Moskowitz, according to FEC records.

Records show that Thiel contributed similar amounts to Republican Reps. Mike McCaul, Chris Stewart, Michael Waltz, Tom Cole and Mario Diaz-Balart. All of them are projected to be reelected to Congress, according to NBC News.

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