The real winner of the Ohio Republican Primary is Peter Thiel, Mother Jones

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, offers attendees a couple of hundred-dollar bills to help highlight the long-term low value of cash during a keynote speech at the Bitcoin Conference last month in Miami Beach.Rebecca Blackwell / AP

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In 2011, Peter Thiel paid 27 million dollars for a house in Maui. In 2022, the billionaire entrepreneur and investor is well on his way to getting a seat in the United States Senate for his friend and former employee, JD Vance, for helping him grossly. It might be the best deal he’s gotten since he acquired a big chunk of Facebook for $ 500,000 in 2004.

Vance is now the favorite to become Ohio’s next senator after winning Tuesday’s competitive Republican primary. He had been in the tail of the polls, but made it to the top after Donald Trump’s belated approval. Thiel was with him every step of the way.

The PayPal co-founder announced he was putting $ 10 million in a super PAC in support of Vance’s bid in the Ohio Senate before Vance even entered the race. He went on to give the super PAC another $ 5 million. The group functioned as a shadow campaign for Vance by conducting polls, funneling people to his events and hiring staff who later joined Vance’s official campaign, the New York Times reported.

But money wasn’t Thiel’s most important contribution to Vance’s campaign. He was instrumental in getting Trump to forgive Vance’s vocal Never Trumpism during the 2016 election. Last year, Thiel and Donald Trump Jr. joined Vance for a meeting with the former president in Mar-a- The needle, politic reported. With Thiel’s help, Vance was able to convince Trump that he would be one of the strongest supporters in the Senate of the MAGA agenda.

Like any good venture capitalist, Thiel pulled with Trump not because he spent a lot but because he invested early. During the 2016 campaign, he was Trump’s biggest supporter in Silicon Valley and spoke in a key position at the Republican National Convention. He continued to donate 1.25 million dollars to support Trump while others were fleeing in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape.

Vance said a lecture Thiel gave in 2011 was one of the highlights of his time at Yale Law School. She went on to work briefly for one of Thiel’s investment firms before starting her own venture capital firm with the support of her old boss. Thiel chose not to have any involvement with the super-PAC in which he had funneled $ 15 million so that he could continue to advise Vance during the campaign without violating electoral laws, according to the Times.

Thiel also spent $ 10 million on a super PAC in support of the Arizona Senate candidacy of its former COO, Blake Masters. Unlike Vance, Masters was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and worked on his transition team in 2016. It’s hard to imagine Trump approving of Vance, but not Masters. Neither would have had a chance without Thiel’s money and connections to Trump.

What Thiel hopes this will bring him in the long run is a much more complicated question. For years, the billionaire has been happy to work from behind the scenes hinting only at what he might be trying to accomplish. But one thing that has long been clear is that he has little regard for democracy. As Thiel put in a 2009 essay“I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible”.

Now there is a good chance that the man who supports this view will soon have two of his former employees serving in the Senate. It could end up costing him less than one of his many houses. Freedom isn’t free for Thiel, but it’s not that expensive either.