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Arizona GOP Senate candidate pledges to spend $50 million of his own money on campaign. Does he have the cash?

Businessman Jim Lamon said he'll fund the race from his own pocket & small donors. But he'll have to step up spending. Meantime, Trump is helping rival raise money.

PHOENIX — A wealthy Republican business executive running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona is pledging to spend $50 million on his campaign, a sum that would dwarf past self-funding candidates in the state and rank among the largest personal expenditures on record in a non-presidential race.

“This is going to be a $100 million campaign. I am going to personally fund half of it,” Jim Lamon said in a speech on Oct. 14 to the Republican Women of the Hills at a Fountain Hills restaurant. Video of the event was provided to 12 News.

“I need everyone in Arizona that wants to save the country, which I know a lot of people are interested in, to help with the other half,” Lamon said.

Lamon, a first-time political candidate, is the founder and chief executive officer of Scottsdale-based Depcom Power, a builder of utility-scale solar power plants. Lamon said in a recent podcast interview that his privately-held, 8-year-old company had revenues of $800 million a year.

Loaned $5 million to the campaign

He has already loaned his campaign $5 million, according to campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission. 

Lamon has shoveled $2 million more into a voter-registration operation called Look Ahead America, which is tied to people promoting falsehoods about the 2020 election. Look Ahead has also organized rallies in support of people arrested during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“I am not taking lobbyist dollars, not taking PAC dollars,” he told the Republican women’s group last month. “I've already signed the two-term limit pledge.”

He added: “I want to go there and be pure for the people of Arizona.”

Spending a 'million dollars a month'

Lamon's campaign spokesman, Stephen Puetz, said in a statement to 12 News that Lamon is spending "a million dollars a month":

"Public records show that Jim has already contributed $5 million to his campaign - a million dollars a month. Jim Lamon is not going to let the socialist activists and special interest supporters of Kelly, along with the dark money coming to Kelly's aid, block out Jim's message. 

"Jim's not a politician, he's refused lobbyist donations, will donate his salary and turn down the congressional pension. Jim Lamon is running to help save our country and be a true voice for the people of Arizona."

Puetz didn’t respond to a question about the sources for Lamon’s personal funding.

Needs to ramp up spending to meet pledge

The last two U.S. Senate races in Arizona have obliterated spending records 

In both 2018 and 2020, candidate and outside spending easily topped $100 million, as Arizona emerged as a battleground state with the power to decide control of the U.S. Senate.

In order to live up to his pledge, Lamon would have to write much larger checks to himself - up to $5 million a month - and dramatically step up his fund-raising from individuals.  

He ranks last in individual fund-raising among the four Senate GOP candidates who have filed campaign finance reports, with about $350,000 in his war chest, according to FEC reports. 

The FEC reports also reveal contributions totaling tens of thousands of dollars from more than five dozen of Lamon’s Depcom employees.

Tech billionaire backs opponent

Lamon and the other GOP candidates have a formidable foe in the Senate money race: The boss and benefactor of another first-time candidate, Blake Masters of Tucson.

Tech billionaire Peter Theil has poured $10 million into a pro-Masters PAC. Theil spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention and has been a key Trump supporter.

Masters has raised $1 million on his own. Now he's apparently gained a powerful new fund-raising ally. 

Trump appearing at Masters' fundraiser

Politico reports that former President Donald Trump will appear at a fundraiser for Masters on Wednesday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Trump hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the Republican primary.

The three other Republicans in the five-person primary are Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich ($991,000 raised from individuals); former Arizona National Guard commander Mick McGuire ($415,000); and Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson (no report yet).

The winner will face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November. 

The next campaign finance disclosures in the U.S. Senate race are expected sometime in January.

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