Washington, DC – Trailing in the polls and on defense on topics such as abortion, Arizona GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters is expected to run even harder on ugly nativism in the final months of his campaign against Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), as a new Time article by Eric Cortellessa assesses. But as the article notes:
“It’s a playbook Republicans have used before. In 2018, many GOP candidates and leaders, including then-President Donald Trump, spread fears about a migrant caravan from Central America heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border. It didn’t work then; while the strategy motivated some Republican voters, Democrats still gained 41 House seats and took control of that chamber.”
If ugly nativism is going to be the silver bullet for Masters and other Republican candidates this cycle, as Stephen Miller and Tucker Carlson are promoting, it’s in a state such as Arizona. But notably, Blake Masters has already made ugly and dangerous anti-immigrant messaging central to his candidacy up until this point, as we highlight below. Additionally, Arizona Republicans have previously tried to use immigration and border issues to attack Mark Kelly in 2020, unsuccessfully. As a result, Kelly offers a lesson for how other Democrats can confidently address GOP immigration attacks while remaining focused on the other 2022 issues they want to run on. See below for more details:
- Blake Masters already is heavily focused on ugly nativism and finds himself losing. In June, America’s Voice called an ad from Masters, “one of the most vile and dangerous nativist ads” we have seen via our ongoing GOP ad tracking project. The ad content was nearly indistinguishable from sections of the white supremacist gunman’s screed in the racist Buffalo mass murders. And as the Time article highlights, Masters used the occasion of his primary victory speech to attack Kelly on immigration and border issues, stating that Kelly was “personally responsible for the worst border crisis our state and our nation have ever seen.” Meanwhile, as Time also notes, Masters’ immigration attacks are tied into his “baggage from his bigoted past statements,” including embrace of white nationalist “replacement” and “invasion” language.
- Senator Kelly knows how to confidently address immigration and border attacks and win. In the 2020 election cycle, Kelly defeated Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) while maintaining pro-immigrant positions in the face of a barrage of attacks, including on “open borders.” When asked directly at the sole candidates’ debate about the future of the DACA program, Kelly acknowledged the need for border security in general but said DACA should not be contingent on security benchmarks, instead stating, “We have 28,000 mostly young people in the state of Arizona who look as American as my two kids and I think they should have a pathway to citizenship right now.”
- Recent polling captures the contours of the race and the limits of Masters’ nativist strategy. A recent Fox News poll in Arizona captures the contours of the race, finding that Kelly leads Masters by 8 points, 50-42% and that border security is the top issue for Republicans (35%), a non-issue for Democrats (3%), and a mid-range issue for Independents (15%). With this background, Democrats enthusiastically support Kelly by 95-2%; Independents support Kelly over Masters by 50-23%; and Hispanics support Kelly over Masters by 53-33%. Our take is that Kelly’s “both/and” approach on immigration – pro-legalization, pro-border security – seems to be working among the broad swaths of the electorate.
According to Zachary Mueller, Political Director for America’s Voice:
“Arizona is the epicenter and Blake Masters one of the leading promoters of the GOP’s ugly and dangerous nativism this cycle. From white nationalist-inspired conspiracies to other flat out lies about border policies, Blake Masters and his fellow Arizona Republicans are advancing a steady stream of attacks and betting big that nativism will be their path to victory in November.
But that bet has not been a winning one in the recent past. The reality is that, outside the radicalized GOP base, most voters have other pressing issues at the top of their mind and are able to separate the real record of Mark Kelly from the fictional version depicted by Masters and the GOP. It’s a reminder that, like 2018 and 2020, nativism isn’t a silver bullet and the Republicans’ extremism and zealotry on the issue is alienating them from the wishes and concerns of most Americans.”
Check out anti-immigrant ads from Blake Masters and other Republicans at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com/