Hedge fund CEO readies Senate bid despite Oz announcement

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PHILADELPHIA — Hedge fund CEO David McCormick is preparing a run for Senate in Pennsylvania, a move that would upend the Republican primary for the third time in as many weeks.

McCormick, who runs Bridgewater Associates, is traveling across the state to meet with top Republicans, placing calls to local GOP leaders and talking with political consultants. He is expected to join the race in the next few weeks, according to a source close to the campaign.

McCormick’s anticipated foray into one of the nation’s most important Senate contests is the latest sign that the GOP field remains unsettled, and that would-be candidates are taking a fresh look at the seat after frontrunner Sean Parnell suspended his campaign last month. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician known as “Dr. Oz,” officially launched a bid for the Senate this week.

“The Oz candidacy has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for a prospective McCormick candidacy,” said Mike DeVanney, a partner at the Pennsylvania-based strategy firm ColdSpark, who is serving as an adviser to McCormick.

McCormick is holding meetings in Philadelphia this week and in Pittsburgh next week, DeVanney confirmed, talking about his plans in an effort to build broad support ahead of a campaign announcement. One event is taking place at the Union League of Philadelphia, an upscale private club in the city, according to two sources.

“He is inching closer to a run,” said Jim Schultz, who was previously a White House lawyer for former President Donald Trump and general counsel to former Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett. “Dave’s the perfect candidate for this and I’ve been encouraging him to run. He is a seventh-generation Pennsylvanian, he spent time across Pennsylvania, he went to high school here, he went to grade school here, he played sports here, he got nominated to West Point from here.”

McCormick’s name has been floated for weeks as a possible candidate in the Senate race, but until recently it was unclear among state GOP insiders how seriously he was looking at a campaign. Several Pennsylvania Republicans, including those who have spoken with McCormick or his advisers, now believe it is all but certain that he will jump in.

The fact that McCormick is taking steps to launch a campaign shows that Oz, a self-funder with millions of followers on social media, is not clearing the field. It also suggests that many party leaders and activists are still shopping around for a candidate.

“It’s going to be a very, very interesting 30 to 60 days here in Republican Pennsylvania politics,” said Sam DeMarco, chair of the Allegheny County Republican Party, who spoke with McCormick recently. He called him an “extremely impressive individual”: “I talked to him about his experience here as a CEO of a local company … and we talked about his success at Bridgewater.”

Christine Toretti, the national committeewoman for the Pennsylvania Republican Party and a friend of McCormick, said party activists seem to be “calming down” in the aftermath of the Oz announcement and taking a “more deliberate look at what is possibly on the horizon.”

“It looks like David is going to get in, it certainly seems that way,” Toretti said. “And I believe that people now are taking a breath, they’re looking at him and looking at his credentials and getting excited about it. The Oz thing is not a done deal.”

McCormick is a Gulf War veteran who served as the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs in George W. Bush’s administration. He is married to former Trump deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

Greg Manz, a former spokesperson for the Pennsylvania GOP who worked on Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, said it is “extremely encouraging that David McCormick is diligently taking the political temperature of a Senate run,” noting that he would amass “the war chest needed to keep this Pennsylvania Senate seat red.”

Dan Meuser, a Pennsylvania congressman, tweeted Wednesday that “A lot of people hoping Dave McCormick runs for Senate. Dave is a great American who grew up in my district. Dave would be an America First/PA First Senator for and FROM PENNSYLVANIA!!”

Top Republicans in D.C. appear to be comfortable with either Oz or McCormick receiving the nomination in Pennsylvania and believe that either candidate could win the seat, according to a GOP source involved in Senate races.

Real estate developer Jeff Bartos and Carla Sands, a former ambassador to Denmark under Trump, are also seeking the Republican Senate nomination.

While both Oz and McCormick are relocating to Pennsylvania to run for Senate, McCormick’s ties to the state span several generations. He moved away from the state as an adult.

McCormick, who most recently lived in Connecticut, recently purchased a house in Allegheny County, DeVanney said, and also owns a family farm in Bloomsburg.

Oz, whose campaign has said he moved from New Jersey to his in-laws’ home in Bryn Athyn in the past year, attended the University of Pennsylvania for medical and business school and was born in Ohio.

McCormick was born in Washington County, in the southwestern part of the state, raised further east in Columbia County, and later returned to the Pittsburgh area as a business leader — serving as CEO of software company FreeMarkets, and later president of Ariba after it purchased the company.

His father, who served as president of Bloomsburg University, worked in state government as chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. McCormick lived in the D.C. area while working in the George W. Bush administration.

In addition to Schultz, political strategist and former Trump campaign adviser David Urban is also helping McCormick launch his campaign, talking to potential supporters and offering advice as McCormick navigates the state.