Partial accounting

The Big Spenders Behind Tomorrow’s Arizona Primary

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August 27, 2018 3:43 pm

Arizona is one of the last states with a toss-up Senate seat to hold primaries ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. And while the Democratic race has been relatively quiet, the Republican contest to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake has been fiery.

Voters will head to the polls tomorrow, and more than a million dollars has been spent by outside groups — those not formally affiliated with a particular candidate’s campaign — to influence how those voters cast their ballots.

The group that has spent the most so far is DefendArizona, a conservative group with many critics of President Donald Trump among its donors. The group opposes Kelli Ward, one of two right-wing GOP primary candidates, and supports Matha McSally, the GOP frontrunner. It has spent over $4 million.

Next up is Red and Gold, a group that was formed at the start of August but has already spent over $1.6 million. Because of its newness, and how Federal Elections Commission reporting deadlines shake out, we don’t yet know who is behind this group. It has contracted with Waterfront Strategies, however. Waterfront is affiliated with GMMB, a political consulting powerhouse that largely works with Democrats. Red and Gold is largely spending to oppose McSally.

Democratic-aligned groups spending to hurt GOP frontrunners — and, thus, the thinking goes, help both Democrats and the GOP frontrunners’ theoretically less electable and more radical GOP competition — has been something of a theme this election. Priorities USA Action, another Democratic group — this one primarily funded by philanthropists George Soros and Donald Sussman — has also dropped $1 million in the state to oppose McSally.

The American Civil Liberties Union, has, for its part, spent over a million dollars opposing former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the other GOP primary candidate challenging McSally from the right.

And a group called KelliPac, funded by megadonor Robert Mercer and banker Andrew Beal, has spent over $1 million, unsurprisingly in support of Kelli Ward.

Here is a tally of the outside-group expenses the FEC has on record:

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