Politics

Endorsed for Congress by a Neo-Nazi? No Worries, Just Blame the Media

Blake Masters speaks with attendees at a "Save America" rally at Country Thunder Arizona in Florence on January 15.
Blake Masters speaks with attendees at a "Save America" rally at Country Thunder Arizona in Florence on January 15. Gage Skidmore

U.S. Senate hopeful Blake Masters’ rejection of a weeks-old campaign endorsement from neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin was “lackluster” and “underwhelming,” his critics say.


Anglin endorsed Masters on June 9 on his website, The Daily Stormer, an alt-right pit of anti-Semitism and racist propaganda. It was named after the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer and was born from the ashes of a short-lived site called Total Fascism.


“I cannot give a more forceful endorsement," Anglin wrote on the website in June. "I demand that anyone in Arizona get in contact with his campaign and see what kind of help he needs."


After public backlash, Masters told Phoenix New Times on Saturday that he rejected the endorsement.


But the Republican candidate, a political newcomer from Tucson, quickly backpedaled, stridently accusing incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly and “the media” of inaccurately painting Anglin as a Nazi.


“I’ve never heard of this guy and I reject his support. The reason I’ve never heard of him is because he’s a nobody, and nobody cares about him except the media,” Masters said in an email to New Times. “They’d like to build him up in order to smear anybody who believes in common sense border security as some kind of ‘Nazi.’ It’s a cheap tactic from Mark Kelly’s media allies and it’s not going to work.”


Masters' defense follows the same general thinking Anglin has employed time and time again as part of a number of anti-Semitic disinformation campaigns dating back to 2013, like “Operation: Filthy Jew Bitch” and “#GasTheKikes.”


“This is the Jews for you, people,” Anglin wrote in the first of a 30-article series that advocates genocide of Jewish people. “They are a vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths. When you do something they don’t like, they will use the power of the media to come down on you, assassinate your character.”

In spite of these hateful claims, Masters was quicker to decry mainstream news outlets than The Daily Stormer, where Anglin wrote that “Jews should be exterminated” and, “The day is coming when we’re going to tear down the hoax [Holocaust] memorial in Berlin and replace it with a statue of Hitler 1,000 feet tall."


That’s telling, said Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix.


“When given the opportunity to reject anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, Masters refused — denouncing 'the media' in starker terms than he denounces the neo-Nazi publication, The Daily Stormer,” Rockower told New Times on Tuesday.


Masters, a top aide to billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, is running on a hard-line nationalist agenda and, like Anglin, has parroted the “white replacement” conspiracy theory.


He’s also a steadfast proponent of the tirelessly debunked “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theory. Masters told conservative activists at an IHOP restaurant in Phoenix this year that he supports investigating the federal government’s "nefarious activities,” stemming from another debunked conspiracy theory that a handful of recent national tragedies were false-flag operations.


That’s one reason why he gleaned Anglin’s support just seven days after earning the coveted endorsement of former President Donald Trump.


Anglin, the neo-Nazi agitator, said he was inspired to write the endorsement after viewing a recent viral video in which Masters knocks down and injures a 73-year-old man at a Pima County campaign event just two days earlier.


Styled after internet forums like 8chan, the birthplace of QAnon, The Daily Stormer spreads anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism, primarily through hyperbole and epithet-laced stories about topics like alleged Jewish world control and black-on-white crime, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Despite what Masters says, though, Anglin isn’t exactly “a nobody.”


A Southern Poverty Law Center post stated that The Daily Stormer as of April 2017 was among the 5,600 most-visited websites in the United States, which hosts more than 1.1 billion websites.


"Blake Masters' tepid renunciation of the endorsement of neo-Nazi publisher and Holocaust denier Andrew Anglin is frankly underwhelming,” Rockower said. “Masters takes pains not to reject Anglin's neo-Nazi views or extremist writings, citing as his only reason for rejecting the endorsement that he has ‘never heard of' Anglin.”


In a bizarre twist, Anglin suggests in the endorsement that Masters is gay: “He’s married to a white women [sic] despite some possibly questionable mannerisms.”

Still, Anglin forged ahead with the unsolicited endorsement.


Masters is gunning for the Republican nomination against Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who has taken a sharp turn to the right in recent months, and Jim Lamon, a wealthy businessman who founded DEPCOM Power, a solar company, and has poured millions into his own campaign.


Masters is also a self-funder, buoyed by $13.5 million from Thiel’s coffers, Federal Election Commission data shows.


According to Race to the White House, a leading national pollster, Masters trailed Brnovich and Lamon in the polls until recently. He's picking up momentum since last month in Arizona and nationally, pulling within a point of his opposition in some polls and leading in others.

An April poll of 1,126 likely Republican voters from Remington Research Group put Masters 23 points behind Lamon. By July, a Trafalgar Group poll of 1,077 likely Republican voters had Masters leading by more than 5 points.


Conservative television personality Tucker Carlson dubbed Masters “the future of the GOP” on his Fox News Channel show, the most-watched program on cable news in the country one week last month.

It's anyone's race to win. But recent events have begged the question of why Anglin plucked Masters from a crowded field of far-right Republicans.


“Left unaddressed in the matter is why a notorious neo-Nazi finds Blake Masters and his campaign so appealing,” Rockower said. “This should be a serious point of reflection and introspection for Masters. The lackluster renunciation is a feign of a baby step in the right direction. Masters must do more."


Chuck Coughlin, a Phoenix-based Republican political analyst, says it’s not anything Masters did that attracted neo-Nazis to the campaign.


Rather, it’s the Trump endorsement.


Trump’s firm grip on the GOP began to loosen during the first 2020 presidential debate against then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump chose not to condemn the Proud Boys, a neofascist group that engages in political violence in Arizona, especially near the Mexican border.

That soured the opinion of some moderate voters, Coughlin said, but it elated extremists on the political right.


“With the Trump endorsement comes the Proud Boys, the white supremacist groups, and all that baggage that comes with it,” Coughlin told New Times on Tuesday. “That’s the lead the neo-Nazis follow. It makes sense that they’d pick Blake.”


The winner of Arizona’s Republican primary on August 2 will face Kelly in the general election on November 8.


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Elias Weiss is a staff writer at the Phoenix New Times. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he reported first for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was editor of the Chatham Star-Tribune in Southern Virginia, where he covered politics and law. In 2020, the Virginia Press Association awarded him first place in the categories of Government Writing and Breaking News Writing for non-daily newspapers statewide.
Contact: Elias Weiss