Ariz. Senate Candidate's Best Man, Former Friends Blast Him for Right-Wing Rhetoric: 'What Happened to You?'

·3 min read
Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters speaks during his town hall event at Miss Kittys Steak House in Williams, Ariz., on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.
Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters speaks during his town hall event at Miss Kittys Steak House in Williams, Ariz., on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Blake Masters

A former close friend to Senate candidate Blake Masters now says he questions "what happened" to the Republican after Masters has made a string of controversial statements, including some about coronavirus virus and about the 2020 presidential election.

Masters, a Trump-endorsed candidate in Arizona's Republican Senate primary, is the subject of a lengthy new profile in Mother Jones, for which the outlet spoke to "more than a dozen friends and acquaintances" of the 35-year-old businessman.

Among those who spoke to the outlet about Masters is "a former college roommate," who said the candidate "was not a s-----, hateful person" in school but instead "a misinformed libertarian white 20-year-old. But honestly, they were a dime a dozen at Stanford."

Another, Collin Wedel, met Masters in middle school and went on to be the best man at his wedding. But Wedel tells Mother Jones that Masters changed with time (and, as the outlet suggests, due to influence by tech titan Peter Thiel, now a mentor to the millennial candidate).

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A turning point for Wedel came in November, when Masters sent a tweet referring to vaccine mandates as evil.

"Shame on you," Wedel replied to the tweet, per Mother Jones. "I'm so utterly disappointed in what you've done with yourself. People will get sick, and die, because of your reckless rhetoric. As someone who loves and used to respect you: What happened to you?"

Another of Masters' former friends, Noah Gustafson, is quoted in the outlet as saying,  "It makes me ache when I see what he writes and says. It puts me in a state of depression."

Masters, meanwhile, has fired back at his one-time friends, taking Wedel to task on Twitter by writing, in part: "The most deadly virus we face is progressivism, it rots both brains and nations. I wish Collin well — but freedom is worth losing friends over."

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After Masters mentioned Wedel by name in the tweet, he says he "received harassing calls at work and home, and had to call the police after threatening materials were placed in his mailbox," per Mother Jones.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wedel says the two continue to be estranged, equating Masters with a snake oil salesman: "I don't know what's worse, if he actually is aware that he's selling snake oil to people, or if he truly believes [it.]"

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In the lead-up to Arizona's Republican primary (which will take place Aug. 2), Masters has often courted controversy, saying in one campaign ad, "I think Trump won in 2020," a theory that has been discounted by even Republican judges.

Posts Masters once made on a CrossFit chat room — and resurfaced by the New York Times — have also raised eyebrows, including one in which he expressed opposition to American involvement in World War II, writing: "Stalin murdered over twice as many as Hitler … why do we gloss over that in schools?)."

And a video shared with Mother Jones shows a virtual submission Masters made to a talent show, where he raps with marks on his face resembling Native American war paint. "I've got the war paint on, as you can see," he sings in the video. "Who said what about cultural insensitivity?"