The Making of a Senator: The Interview
The Making of a Senator: The Interview
Note: The following is a transcript of Benjamin Braddock's sit down with Arizona's candidate for the Senate Blake Masters, recorded on October 11, 2022, during Blake's campaign trail in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Benjamin Braddock: Feeling good?
Blake Masters: Yep. Feeling good. It feels like I’m the underdog, and we’re going to win. We all know it’s a competition.
Benjamin Braddock: The race in Virginia felt very similar at this point. Very close right up until the end and then there was a last-minute shift to the Republicans. So what got you into this race? This is a lot to take on. Was there a particular moment or feeling that led you to jump in?
Blake Masters: I’ll give two answers. One was general and began a few years ago and one was specific.
The general answer is, I was on the Trump transition team and was working in Trump Tower on staffing the government. And it’s the first time in my life where I’m meeting that many congressmen and senators, and some of those people are really impressive individuals and some actually aren’t, which was kind of a wake-up call. You’re like, “Wow, you’re in charge?” And I was just a thirty-year-old kid at the time, right? But even the ones who were very impressive were asking me “Hey, what just happened? We didn’t see that coming.” I was involved in the campaign in a very minor way, helping Peter Thiel with his public service role, but it occurred to me that even though I was just participating on the periphery I knew more, like I had my finger on the pulse of what was going on and understood why this country elected Trump, something I had really wanted to happen. And even though their job was to represent their constituents back home, they had become disconnected from the people. It was like, hey, maybe the adults don’t actually have it all under control. Maybe no one’s really got their hand on the tiller here, and maybe I can do that.
And then a couple of years later, my wife and I went back home to Arizona after my sister-in-law in Tucson passed away unexpectedly. I got plugged in again on the ground in Arizona and the state and Tucson had changed so much since I was a kid. It was a shock for me to see. We moved back full-time in 2018, and then seeing how we lost both Senate seats in November 2018 and November 2020 was crazy to me. Those Senate seats were always held by Republicans and then all of a sudden both flipped blue. And then Joe Biden was sworn in and I knew that was going to be bad. I even gave Mark Kelly a few months. It was like, “let’s see if he’s going to be the moderate independent that he said he was.” And it was clear after a few months that he was voting lockstep with the Biden agenda. I didn’t have high expectations but I was surprised he didn’t even meet those. That’s why I decided to run and I think we need more of that. Citizen statesmen who just put their business career on pause, go in and do a job.
Benjamin Braddock: Are there any interactions with voters from the campaign trail that stick out to you or moments that have driven home the significance of what you’re doing?
Blake Masters: I just met a woman in Glendale whose 15-year-old daughter disappeared three years ago. Now she’s 18. She’s never been found. Alisha was her name, is her name. She’s high functioning on the autism spectrum. She was doing lots of gaming online, lots of interacting with people online. And the best working theory is that she was talking to someone online and went to meet up and turned out to be a child predator. This woman, God bless her, working hard every day to try to find new leads and try to tell her daughter’s story and warn other parents of the dangers of child predation online. Stuff like that, people whose kids have died from cancer and people whose kids died in Iraq or Afghanistan. After I was talking about mental illness I met a woman who told me about how her son had died by suicide. Just so many interactions with voters. I really do think it’s amazing, it’s the best part of campaigning by far. But some of these hard-hitting stories, I’ll never forget them. And it highlights how people really are suffering. Our politics is so broken. People really are suffering under this failed leadership, and so it’s hard to hear some of these stories, but it also makes me just really, really want to win so I can get in there and shake it up and help people.
Benjamin Braddock: How do you manage the stress of the campaign?
Blake Masters: I feel like where I am, you’ve got to be stressed the right amount. You can’t be too stressed. There’s a lot of wisdom in that balance. I don’t always have it figured out. My family keeps me grounded. I wish I saw them more, but it’s good to disconnect when you’re playing catch with your eight-year-old. You’re not thinking about it, you know? And so there’s that. But also, I feel like I’m not in charge. I feel like it’s up to God and that doesn’t mean I can take my foot off the gas — my job is to run the best race I can and use whatever talents I’m given and have cultivated to do everything I can to win — but ultimately this is where faith matters. Ultimately it’s not up to me. It’s up to the voters and it’s up to God.
Benjamin Braddock: What do you wish the journalists would ask you?
Blake Masters: [Takes a few seconds] That’s a good question. The left-wing media just wants to ask gotcha questions. I wish it was more ideas-based and there were more media environments where we could have deeper discussions about the issues. Like the debate, that was a good one and I wish we could have a lot more of that and beyond — a debate where it’s not a scripted 90-second answer format but the candidates have a real conversation in front of the voters. I would love to do that, but Mark Kelly would never agree to it. And one problem in politics is you can never just explore ideas that aren’t congealed. You’re never allowed to say anything wrong or you get crucified.