The Pennsylvania Senate race has another top — and wealthy — Republican nominee.
David McCormick, a former hedge fund manager and Army veteran, officially kicked off his long-awaited campaign Thursday morning, joining a crowded, spendthrift field in one of the nation’s most critical and competitive Senate races.
McCormick, who grew up in Pennsylvania but recently lived in Connecticut, has made it clear for weeks that he intends to run, airing more than $2 million in TV ads since late December, meeting with insiders from the GOP across the state and buying a house in the Pittsburgh area.
His official entry, after months of public maneuvering, likely completes the Republican field in a contest that could help decide control of the Senate and, with it, the fate of much of President Joe Biden’s agenda. (He is also the third wealthy GOP candidate to only recently move to the state.)
A statement announcing his campaign cast McCormick as a Pennsylvania native who “will champion the American dream for future generations of the radical left.”
“All Pennsylvanians are suffering from the disastrous policies that Joe Biden and the Democrats have unleashed on our nation and I cannot sit idly by and let this continue,” McCormick said in the press release, his first public comments signaling his approach. in the countryside. “Weakness and awakening are on the march throughout society. They are threats to the future of our country and contrary to who we are as Pennsylvanians. I present myself to the Senate to resist the movement of weakness.
Four months before the primary, he joins a very open race with no clear precursor and wealthy rivals also pouring millions in TV ads. The GOP field now includes Mehmet Oz, the famous surgeon known as “Dr. Oz”; Carla Sands, the former ambassador to Denmark; developer Jeff Bartos; conservative commentator Kathy Barnette; and Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto Incumbent Republican Senator Pat Toomey is not seeking re-election.
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McCormick enters the fray with a stellar resume that fits the traditional Republican mold, the backing of some notable GOP figures, and an apparent willingness to spend millions of his own fortune. But he also faces questions about whether a hedge fund chief with establishment backing can appeal to today’s Republican primary voters. He was never tested politically, having never been a candidate for public office or subject to scrutiny. And his former fund’s investments in China are already drawing potentially powerful attacks.
Supporters point to McCormick’s background, with ties to the military, business and Pennsylvania. He grew up in Bloomsburg, central Pennsylvania – where his father was Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State Higher Education System – and went to West Point, became an Army Ranger and earned a bronze star while serving in the first Gulf War. McCormick went on to earn a doctorate from Princeton University, ran a business in Pittsburgh, and held several positions in the George W. Bush administration before becoming managing director of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund.
He left that post this month, but his leadership there provides fodder for his rivals.
An Oz-supporting super PAC greeted McCormick this week with an announcement hammering Bridgewater’s investments in China and McCormick’s overseen job losses in the Pittsburgh area. The spot featured a red Chinese flag and a disclaimer from the narrator: “He’s a friend of China, with a long history of selling us out.”
“A senator from Pennsylvania shouldn’t have an outstanding record of enriching the Chinese Communist Party,” said Casey Contres, Oz’s campaign manager.
The Oz camp also released a note highlighting the positive comments McCormick has made about China in the past, on the more than $1 billion his fund raised there last year. and on his previous criticisms of Donald Trump.
McCormick’s team says he’s been critical of China in the past, pointing to a CNBC opinion piece he co-wrote in June calling the country “the most serious economic and military rival in a generation.” It was one of only two sentences referring to China, however, in a broader article outlining ways states could use funds included in Biden’s coronavirus relief bill, which has passed with Democratic support alone.
McCormick also launched his first two campaign ads on Thursday, attempting to portray the wealthy leader as a down-to-earth Pennsylvanian. One shows him wearing a camouflage jacket as he carries a haystack in one shot and talks about hunting in another. It enlists two high school friends, wearing hoodies and sitting in a bar, to playfully poke fun at McCormick’s high school hunting and football exploits. “Dave McCormick’s Pennsylvania roots will keep him grounded,” the ad reads.
READ MORE: David McCormick takes first public steps to run for Senate, join tumultuous GOP primary
In the second spot, he talks about the struggle at West Point and vows “to fight the woke mob that’s hijacking America’s future.”
Some Pennsylvania Republicans lined up behind McCormick before he even started his campaign, including National Committee Member Christine Toretti, former GOP Chairman Rob Gleason, and Bucks County businessman, Pat Deon. Longtime agent David Urban advised McCormick, as did Jim Schultz, Trump’s White House attorney.
McCormick also tapped some of Trump’s top aides as early advisers, including Hope Hicks and immigration hardliner Stephen Miller. Cliff Sims, an aide who wrote a tell-all book that allegedly infuriated Trump, is also on board. McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, was one of Trump’s top national security advisers.
Oz, on the other hand, campaigned as a foreign celebrity, much like Trump did. Sands, appointed by Trump as an ambassador, aims to show that she is the most dedicated to his ideology. Bartos has relied on his longstanding ties to GOP politics in Pennsylvania, leaning on grassroots support to counter what he calls political “tourists,” while Bochetto dismisses rivals arriving from outside of the state as “suitors”. Barnette also sought to appeal to staunch Trump supporters.
Oz has already spent more on television than McCormick, while Sands has also done publicity and brings his own personal wealth to the race.
Sands and Oz also only recently moved to Pennsylvania. Oz, who went to the University of Pennsylvania for medical and business school but has lived in North Jersey for decades, says he started renting his in-laws’ home in Montgomery County at the end of 2020, about a year before launching his campaign. Sands, who grew up in the Harrisburg area, lived in Southern California for a long time before registering to vote again in Pennsylvania in January 2020, before Toomey announced his intention to leave office. She moved there after her term as ambassador ended, according to her campaign.
The entry of another multi-millionaire foreshadows a hugely expensive primary, which was upended in November when Army veteran Sean Parnell, Trump’s first choice in the race, dropped out amid domestic violence charges. This meltdown helped open the door for McCormick.
None of the Republican candidates have held elected office, unlike a Democratic primary that includes Lt. Governor John Fetterman, U.S. Representative Conor Lamb, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta and Philadelphia ER doctor Kevin. Baumlin.