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Video shows GOP AZ Senate candidate Blake Masters shoving man to ground

Man was wearing BLM shirt and "Jail Trump" hat at Republican gathering. Trump-backed candidate claims man hit a woman. But video shows a woman slugged him.

PHOENIX — With his "Jail Trump" hat, COVID mask and Black Lives Matter T-shirt, hard-core Democrat Peter Jackson was dressed to provoke. 

"I thought, 'Let's see how they react to a citizen who will clearly not agree with most of what they believe,'" Jackson said in an interview Wednesday from his Green Valley home. 

"They" were the Republican voters who gathered Saturday in Green Valley for what was billed as a "kegger and open mic night" for GOP candidates. The invitation didn't limit who could attend.

"It got intense very quickly," said Jackson, a 73-year-old former high school counselor.

"They were not civil. And I wasn't afraid of them." 

Video shot by Jackson during his 10 minutes at the event shows a melee involving Jackson and about six attendees. 

The melee ended when Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, who was not involved in the original incident,  came over, placed his hands on Jackson's neck and chest, and, with a few other men, shoved Jackson out of the meeting room, according to a frame-by-frame review of the 20-second confrontation.

Masters: Jackson hit woman

Masters claimed that Jackson had hit a woman.

A few hours after the melee, Masters posted his version of what happened on social media:

"He hit a woman and this is not something that you do," Masters said in a video.

"So me and a couple guys intervened, and now he's being wheeled out on a stretcher." The small audience cheered.

On Wednesday, hours after the video of the attack went viral on social media, Masters tried to push back:

"This guy hit a woman in the jaw. I saw it, clear as day. He should not have done that!"

Masters' campaign didn't respond to a request for an interview.

Video: Woman punched Jackson's jaw

The frame-by-frame video review doesn't provide evidence that Jackson hit a woman.

"I don't hit women," he said.  

But there is clear evidence that Jackson was cold-cocked by a woman who was shooting cell phone video of him from a few feet away. 

The video shows the woman lashed out with a balled fist at Jackson's left jaw. Jackson's head snapped back; the smack on Jackson's face appeared to be audible.

In the video, Jackson's arms appear to be flailing.

"I defended myself against her because she'd already punched me," he said. "I pushed her left shoulder away so we could get some distance because she was right up against me."

"When I pushed her away, that's when the male mob descended upon me," he said.

The candidate event hadn't started yet.

Masters was circulating behind the small group near Jackson.

The video shows that Masters, who is 35, rushed in, put his hands around Jackson's neck and pushed him to the ground outside the meeting room.

Two attendees harassed Jackson as he lay on the ground.

Jackson suffered a bruised neck - the result of someone tugging on a gold chain around his neck, he said - and bloodied knees when he hit the ground.

Jackson cited by sheriff's deputies

The Pima County sheriff's deputies who were called to the scene gave Jackson two misdemeanor citations, for trespassing and assault - a "touch to provoke." 

Jackson said he asked a sheriff's deputy, "'You're going to give them a citation because they attacked me?' And he said, 'No,' and I said, 'Wait, what?'"

Jackson said the Sheriff's Department did ask for a copy of his video.

But Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos says he won't ask deputies to investigate.

“We have bigger and better things to do than to investigate adults acting like kids,” Nanos told the Arizona Daily Star's Tim Steller.

“I’ve got to trust my deputies to do their job.”

Nanos said deputies at the scene thought that Jackson provoked the crowd by pushing one of the women on the shoulder.

Masters Backed By Trump

Masters, a Tucson native, is a Trump-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate who is given to making provocative statements

CNN reported Wednesday that Masters floated the conspiracy theory that the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, may have been set up by the FBI.

Masters' benefactor and former boss, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, has pumped $13.5 million into a PAC supporting his campaign. Masters is one of two Republicans - the other is J.D. Vance of Ohio - whose Senate races are being bankrolled by Thiel.

Thiel is a major Trump supporter and donor. Vance was also endorsed by Trump.

Jackson said he had no idea who Blake Masters was. 

"I wouldn't be able to tell a Republican politician from Adam," he said.

Masters faces three rivals in Arizona's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate: Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, businessman Jim Lamon and retired Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire, former commander of the Arizona National Guard.

The winner of the Aug. 2 primary will face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November's general election.

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