JD Vance (left) and Blake Masters (right). Photo Caption: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer and Mario Tama via Getty Images
Venture capitalists Blake Masters and JD Vance are Republicans running for the U.S. Senate, but many voters in Arizona and Ohio may not know their business backgrounds.
Why it matters: For political newbies who have spent most of their careers in the private sector, it goes against traditional campaign tactics. If successful, it could represent a new normal.
What to know: Neither Masters nor Vance hide their VC pasts, as each of their campaign sites includes resume snippets. But the candidates haven’t talked much about these pasts in public either.
- Nor are they often forced to do so by their opponents, unlike Mitt Romney who faced Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama in 2016.
In Arizona: In last week’s televised debate, neither Blake Masters nor his Democratic opponent (incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly) mentioned Masters’ brief time as an entrepreneur, nor his subsequent stint at Thiel. Eight years of capital.
- Axios Phoenix reporter Jeremy Duda told me that it’s comparable to the course of this campaign.
In Ohio: Vance’s opponent, Congressman. Tim Ryan has worked harder than Kelly to make venture capital an issue, including through the “San Francisco Condor Capitalist” ad he was asked about during last week’s debate.
- But Ryan couldn’t hold on to the landing, insisting that Vance was “investing in China,” but couldn’t name the company he was referring to.
- That may be because Vance never backed a Chinese company through his venture capital fund, according to a review of records.
- Instead, Ryan is apparently referring to two companies on Vance’s financial disclosure form that source some equipment and/or products from China, both of which are tied to Revolution Rise’s remaining seed funding (Vance joined in 2017 and has spent two years later to leave and launch his own fund). company).
- But it’s a bit like investing in the Ford Motor Company. Is “investing in China” because Ford has sourced some EV battery packs from Chinese suppliers. Additionally, Revolution co-founder Steve Case made two investments before Vance joined the company, but later entered the fund as endowment assets. The other is a Salt Lake City-based clothing maker that makes about 22 percent of its production in factories in Shanghai and Tianjin (the investment was made shortly before Vance left the Revolution).
- On top of that, the entire investment exchange lasted only a few minutes— 15:00 start watching here – and hardly one of the defining moments of the debate (whatever voters think has the upper hand).
Neither Masters nor Vance responded to Axios’ requests for comment.
Bottom line: Venture capital won’t be on the ballot next month, although two venture capitalists will.