PHOENIX — Former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona sought Tuesday to reassure their conservative supporters they should be comfortable voting to send Republican Blake Masters to the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Pence and Mr. Ducey, who is chair of the Republican Governors Association, have fallen out of favor with former President Trump’s fervent supporters because they refuse to go all-in on his stolen election claims. Both, however, remain influential in the eyes of traditional conservatives who are lukewarm on Mr. Masters’ Trump-backed bid to oust Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly.
Mr. Pence said Mr. Masters is a “proven conservative” who will fight to secure the southern border, combat crime, bring down inflation and “unleash American energy.”
“Blake Masters is one of the brightest stars in the Republican Party in America and he will be a leader on Day One in the new Republican Majority in Washington, D.C.,” he said, with Mr. Masters standing at his side.
Mr. Ducey, who is term-limited and cannot run for reelection, said Mr. Masters is the “superior choice” in the Senate race.
“The reason Blake is going to win is because he is the one who is going to push back on the Biden policies that have inflation raging,” Mr. Ducey said. “He will actually take our southern border seriously. He is serious about school choice and sees that the federal government doesn’t have to have a role in it — that states have rights and parents have a say in their children’s education.”
Mr. Kelly is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats.
The outcome of the race will help determine whether Republicans can seize control of the upper chamber and serve as a brick wall against President Biden’s agenda.
The Pence-Ducey press conference followed a Trump rally Sunday in nearby Mesa.
Mr. Trump and numerous speakers vouched for Mr. Masters and GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and continued to air stolen election grievances.
Ms. Masters and, to a greater extent, Ms. Lake, leaned into rigged election claims in their primary races. More recently, though, they have pivoted away from those allegations and focused on issues such as the economy, inflation and immigration that appeal to independent and disenchanted Republican voters.
David McIntosh, head of the low-tax, small-government advocates at Club for Growth, joined Mr. Pence and Mr. Ducey at the press conference, which was billed as a chance to promote school choice.
The event coincided with the release of a new poll from OH Predictive Insights showing Mr. Masters has a hill to climb.
Mr. Kelly leads Mr. Masters by a 46% to 33 % margin. Libertarian Marc Victor, meanwhile, received 15% support.
Mr. Kelly has an 18-point lead among independents. Other warning signs for Mr. Masters are his favorable rating is 13-points underwater, and 21% of Republicans surveyed are planning to vote for Mr. Victor, suggesting the GOP Senate nominee has yet to unify the party.
Mr. Kelly won a special election in 2020 to fill out the term of the late Republican Sen. John McCain. Now he is running for a full six-year term and has dominated on the fundraising front.
Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Masters in the primary race, helping him emerge victorious in a hard-fought, multi-candidate, race.
Mr. Pence and Mr. Ducey meanwhile stayed on the sidelines in the Senate race, but they did line up opposite from Mr. Trump in the gubernatorial race, backing Karrin Taylor Robson over Ms. Lake, who made the stolen election claims a centerpiece of her campaign.
On Tuesday, Mr. Pence framed the race in practical terms, saying Republicans must get out and vote for Mr. Masters if want to “put the brakes on” the Biden agenda in the Senate.
“What I came here to Arizona to say is not only is Blake Masters the right choice for the United States Senate, but the people of Arizona deserve to know Blake Masters may be the difference between a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the Senate,” he said. “Blake Masters could well be the deciding vote of whether or not Republicans have a majority to stop the runaway spending agenda, open-borders, inflation-driving policies that have beset the country and are hurting families here in Arizona and around the country.”