- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Former hedge fund executive David McCormick officially launched his Senate campaign in Pennsylvania Thursday, joining an unsettled Republican primary field in a marquee race.
The announcement by McCormick, who recently left his job as CEO of Bridgewater Associates and previously served in the Treasury Department during the George W. Bush administration, shakes up a primary field that morphed into a free for all following erstwhile front-runner Sean Parnell's withdrawal.
Mehmet Oz, the talk show host and cardiothoracic surgeon, jumped into the race in late November, joining businessman Jeff Bartos and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands, among others.
McCormick's entry had long been expected after Republicans inside and outside the state recruited him to join the race. The lobbying campaign started when Parnell suspended his bid in November after he faced domestic abuse allegations and lost custody of his children to his ex-wife.
McCormick, a first-time candidate who is largely untested, is expected to tout his experience growing up in western Pennsylvania, service in the military and time in the private sector. However, he is also expected to face attacks over having lived in Connecticut in recent years and accusations he oversaw the offshoring of jobs from the U.S. to places like China and India.
In a 30-second ad announcing his bid, McCormick hit on expected themes, promoting his service in the Iraq War and business acumen.
"I fought for freedom in Iraq and American capitalism, not socialism. And now I'm running for U.S. Senate to fight the woke mob hijacking America's future," McCormick said.
McCormick has also forecasted he will hew closely to policies championed by former President Trump.
In a following statement released by his campaign, McCormick hammered the Biden administration's foreign policy and decried "wokeness" in business, a favorite rallying cry of conservatives.
"As a combat veteran, I watched the Biden Administration's disastrous handling of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the way he has continued to project weakness to the world. At the same time, in my business career I've seen wokeness damage our great companies and hurt good people," he said.
"Weakness and wokeness are on the march across all of society. They are threats to our country's future and antithetical to who we are as Pennsylvanians. I am running for Senate to stand up to the movement of weakness," he continued.
Among those advising him are Hope Hicks, who worked both on Trump's 2016 campaign and in his White House, and Stephen Miller and Cliff Sims, who were both high-profile staffers in the previous administration. Other Trump alumni, like former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, are also supportive of McCormick's run, a source familiar with the matter told The Hill last month.
McCormick has also surrounded himself with several veteran Pennsylvania politicos, including Christine Toretti, a Republican National Committee member from the state; David Urban, a lobbyist who also has ties to Trump; former Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Robert Gleason; lawyer Jim Schultz; and strategist Mike DeVanny.
For their parts, Oz and Sands have adopted much of the language of Trump and railed against mask and vaccine mandates and coronavirus-related school and business closures. Bartos, meanwhile, has leaned more heavily on his business experience.
While several candidates are expected to jostle for Trump's endorsement, it remains unclear if the former president will get involved in the race after Parnell, whom he had backed, dropped out.
McCormick's opponents are already forecasting that they will try to go on the offense, with pro-Oz outside group American Leadership Action releasing an ad Thursday hitting McCormick over his old hedge fund's ties to China and accusing him of getting "rich off us."
Still, McCormick brings immense personal wealth to the race, with a source previously telling The Hill he's willing to make "significant" investments of his own money into the campaign, allowing him the funds to rebut attacks.
Already, his campaign released a second ad touting his Pennsylvania upbringing in an apparent attempt to head off criticism of his recent Connecticut residence."
"Dave McCormick's Pennsylvania roots will keep him grounded," a narrator says in the video.
The race in Pennsylvania to replace the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is anticipated to be among the most competitive and expensive in the nation. The state is among the swingiest in the nation, backing Trump by a razor-thin margin in 2016 before flipping to President Biden last year by just more than 1 percentage point.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Rep. Conor Lamb, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Val Arkoosh and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta are running in the Democratic primary.
Democrats pounced on the news of McCormick's entry into the race, touting it as an example of a GOP primary mired in chaos and infighting.
"McCormick's announcement makes the chaotic, vicious and expensive GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania even worse. McCormick's Republican rivals are already calling him out as an outsourcer who sent Pennsylvania jobs to China, a Wall Street CEO who profited at the expense of working families and yet another carpetbagger with no real connection to the Commonwealth," said Patrick Burgwinkle, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"With attacks like these already flying, the GOP's primary is sure to drain Republicans' resources and demonstrate the deep flaws in every one of their candidates."
Updated 12:32 p.m.