Hedge fund manager and Gulf War veteran David McCormick takes official first steps to join Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, taking action that may soon add another prominent Republican to one of the country’s most critical campaigns.
McCormick plans to file IRS documents on Monday creating the Friends of Dave McCormick Scouting Committee, a forerunner of what could become a campaign entity, advisers told The Inquirer. And on Tuesday, he plans to launch a statewide television commercial featuring the potential candidate speaking on camera. The announcement of more than a million dollars, which McCormick is paying for himself, according to an adviser, will push him into the public eye after spending weeks privately meeting with GOP leaders and donors.
The two stages represent McCormick’s first public indication of his intentions. He is widely expected to join the GOP Senate primary race early in the new year, although allies insist there has been no final decision.
His campaign would be adding another big figure to a race turned upside down by the downfall of previous frontrunner, Sean Parnell, and the subsequent entry of famed surgeon Mehmet Oz. Republicans are still on the hunt for a standout candidate in a race who could help determine Senate control.
Parnell had obtained the approval of former President Donald Trump, but gave up less than three months later amid accusations of domestic violence by his ex-wife, leading the race.
Oz, who entered the race on November 30, is also massive spending on television and, like McCormick, appears ready to use large sums of his own wealth to fuel his campaign. Early GOP entrants include Montgomery County real estate developer Jeff Bartos; Carla Sands, former ambassador for the Trump administration to Denmark; and Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator.
With the GOP on the hunt for a candidate who can keep the highly competitive seat held by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), Some Republican insiders have spent weeks promoting McCormick’s potential to the masses. party leaders and journalists. They point to his brilliant curriculum vitae: He is a West Point graduate who received a Bronze Star in the First Gulf War, received a PhD from Princeton University, ran a company based in Pittsburgh, served in the George W. Bush and is now Managing Director of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. He could potentially deposit millions of his own money into the race.
But McCormick, 56, has not been politically tested and is relatively unknown outside political circles (and even within those circles, some Republicans have only heard from him in recent weeks). And like others in the race, McCormick has lived outside of Pennsylvania for the past few years in Connecticut, and is now backing down that there is an open Senate seat. He grew up and previously worked in Pennsylvania, where his family has long roots, and recently purchased a home in the Pittsburgh area.
READ MORE: Sean Parnell is out. What’s next for Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate race in 2022?
McCormick has never faced the scrutiny of running for public office, and his rivals are already reporting potential vulnerabilities, including job cuts he supervised in the Pittsburgh area and his hedge fund massive investments in China – two issues that could be particularly toxic among GOP voters who turned to the America First message led by Trump.
McCormick’s allies say they can point the finger at the hawkish stances he has taken on China. His wife, Dina Powell McCormick, was one of the main national security advisers to Trump, and McCormick himself was considered for positions in administration.
READ MORE: Mehmet Oz says he now resides in Pennsylvania. So why is he still hanging out in his New Jersey mansion?
The entity McCormick is creating with the IRS will allow him to raise and spend money on his campaign while he contemplates a launch. Any donation or expense would have to be made public if he became a candidate.
While there are spending thresholds that by law require potential candidates to file disclosures, McCormick advisers said his initial ad would not be considered campaign activity, due of its content.
McCormick, encouraged to lead by a group of longtime GOP agents, met with party leaders and donors and garnered early support from some prominent insiders.
âDave is just a very impressive human being when you meet him,â said Pasquale âPatâ Deon, a Bucks County businessman and a longtime player in GOP politics in Pennsylvania. Recounting a meeting with McCormick, Deon said the potential candidate made a commitment, “I’ll spend whatever it takes to do it.”
Earlier this month, Republican National Committee woman Christine Toretti co-hosted a meetup for McCormick at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, effectively asserting her support. Such support can help facilitate McCormick’s introduction to other key Republican figures and potentially send signals to voters in next year’s primary.
Allegheny County GOP Chairman Sam DeMarco returned from the Pittsburgh event praising McCormick’s potential, saying he “was an example of strength and experience.”
And former Pennsylvania Republican President Rob Gleason said in an interview on Sunday that he planned to support McCormick, citing his ability to fund his campaign and his veteran status.
âHe’s going to be a heckuva candidate,â Gleason said. “I think he can really connect with people.”
With his new home near Pittsburgh, McCormick would be the only Republican candidate in western Pennsylvania, a potential advantage in a primary, when a local affiliation can help sway voters when faced with a range of choices.
But some of his potential rivals argue that supporting elite parties is no longer the blessing it once was, especially after Trump’s Republican upheaval and the rejection of many old guard figures.
“Dr. Oz is a political outsider campaigning across Pennsylvania speaking directly to voters about how he wants to hold them accountable and stand up to the establishment and the big government,” said the campaign manager of Oz, Casey Cons. “I have nothing to add about other candidates running or considering running who care more about what the elites think of them rather than the voters.”
Oz supporters, including one of the early Congressional supporters, U.S. Representative Guy Reschenthaler (R., PA), highlighted his celebrity status and name recognition as benefits that follow the Trump mold.
McCormick adviser Mike DeVanney said the grassroots Conservatives “want a guy who can win.”
McCormick would be the third ultra-rich GOP contender to join the race after long living out of state. His family, however, have been in the state for generations and he grew up in Bloomsburg, where his father was president of what was then Bloomsburg State College and later Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State Higher Education System.
Oz lived in New Jersey for decades, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with his medical and business degrees, and says he now rents his in-laws’ house in Montgomery County. Sands, who also has significant personal wealth and finances much of his own countryside, lived for years in Southern California. She returned to the Harrisburg area, where she grew up, earlier this year. Previously, she ran the investment firm founded by her late husband, Fred Sands, Vintage Capital.
Bartos is also spending his own money to support his campaign.
Sands highlighted his own ties to Trump, while Bartos’ camp highlighted his work in rallying grassroots support, including recently appointing campaign âcaptainsâ in all 67 counties. He also has the backing of Treasurer Stacy Garrity, the only woman to hold an elected office statewide. Barnette is touting himself as an ally of Trump, having backed many of his bogus election claims.
McCormick’s entry would add another name to a main mix that could evolve further.
READ MORE: Find out who is running for the Pennsylvania US Senate in 2022
philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto prepares to officially enter the race, stating in a recent email to potential supporters: “I see a field of the GOP developing that has, at best, a sporadic attachment to the state and a complete attachment to the big globalist capitals – from China to Hollywood. “
Bochetto, who has advocated for keeping the statue of Christopher Columbus in South Philadelphia, added: “I want to be a true Pennsylvanian to all other true Pennsylvanians.”
Former US Representative Keith Rothfus, from the Pittsburgh area, is also reportedly considering a Senate nomination.
The Democratic realm includes Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, U.S. Representative Conor Lamb, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta, and Emergency Physician Kevin Baumlin.