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David McCormick launches campaign for Senate

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David McCormick launches campaign for Senate

Sep 21, 2023 | 7:26 pm ET
By Kim Lyons
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David McCormick launches campaign for Senate
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David McCormick launches his campaign for Senate in Pittsburgh Sept. 21, 2023 (Capital-Star photo)

PITTSBURGH- In a move that surprised exactly no one, David McCormick, who lost a bid for Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate nomination in 2022, will again seek the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, this time to challenge incumbent Democrat Bob Casey in 2024.

“Under the failed leadership of Joe Biden, America is in decline: Economically, militarily, spiritually,” McCormick told the audience at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. “I’m here to tell you tonight that it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Pennsylvania, McCormick said, needs leadership. “We need leadership that can ensure that we have the opportunities that we deserve, to make the American dream available for every citizen of Pennsylvania.”

Before McCormick spoke, a promotional video played on screens beside the stage, showing clips of President Joe Biden, Casey, and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), whose images seemed to receive the loudest boos from the crowd. A clip of Fetterman wearing his signature shorts and hoodie mocking the GOP that posted to social media last week made the reel, along with titles reading “violent crime,” “inflation,” and “record border crossings” over generic images.

Casey, McCormick said, is a Washington, D.C. insider who has been a rubber stamp for Biden’s policies. “When Joe Biden says jump, Bob Casey asks how high. When Joe Biden says vote, Bob Casey says ‘which way?’ When Joe Biden comes calling, Bob Casey comes running,” McCormick said. “Bob Casey represents six more years of rubber stamps.”

McCormick said Casey has been in Washington, D.C. for so long that when he was first elected, The Macarena was the number one song, and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, now retired, was in middle school. “And most of us had never heard of this thing called the internet,” he said.

Casey, McCormick added, “is a nice guy. But he’s not a leader.”

McCormick has long been considered the most likely candidate to run against Casey, who is seeking reelection to a fourth term. He lost the 2022 GOP primary for Senate in Pennsylvania to Mehmet Oz, who lost in the general election to Democrat John Fetterman.

But since then, McCormick made moves that suggested he was considering another bid. He wrote a book titled “Superpower in Peril: A Battle Plan to Renew America,” that many pundits viewed as a literal battle plan, and started the political action committee Pennsylvania Rising this spring. Earlier this month, 100 Republicans wrote a public letter calling on McCormick to run again, and CNBC reported Thursday that McCormick was the guest of honor at a swanky August party in the Hamptons hosted by fashion designer Tory Burch, with several potential big-money donors in attendance. 

Western Pa. Democrats ‘welcome’ McCormick

At Thursday night’s kickoff event, which drew about 200 people and had a live band, several key Allegheny County Republicans were in attendance, including Allegheny County Councilor and chairman of the Republican caucus of Allegheny County Sam DeMarco, state Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny), who took the stage with McCormick, and former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy. Earlier this week, McCormick received the endorsement of state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who lost the gubernatorial election to Josh Shapiro in 2022.

Casey will likely prove to be  a tough, experienced opponent, who raised more than $4 million in the second quarter of this year alone, according to campaign finance records. So far, McCormick is his only opponent. But Casey, the son of former Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey, Sr., has never lost a statewide general election; in addition to serving three terms as senator, he previously served as the state’s Auditor General and as state Treasurer.

Democrats have been focusing heavily on McCormick’s residency status, an issue that proved problematic for Oz in 2022. Before the candidate took the stage on Thursday, a plane bearing a banner that read “Welcome to Pennsylvania Dave!” flew over the city. The state Democratic Party confirmed it paid for the banner.

McCormick was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania and grew up near Bloomsburg. He owns a home in Pittsburgh that he bought ahead of his 2022 campaign for Senate. But the Associated Press reported last month that he lists his Connecticut address on public documents. McCormick also has not received a residency homestead tax exemption on his house in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, the AP reported.

But on Thursday, he greeted the audience as “my fellow Pennsylvanians” and repeated his Keystone State bona fides, calling himself a seventh-generation Pennsylvanian, and touting his experience running FreeMarkets, a company that was acquired in 2004 for $493 million.

“I am Pennsylvania first, I was born and raised here,” he said.

Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Maddy McDaniel said in a statement Thursday night that McCormick is a “mega-millionaire Connecticut hedge fund executive who is lying about living in Pennsylvania, and has spent his life looking out for himself and his rich friends at the expense of working families.”

Casey, McDaniel said “has spent his career fighting for Pennsylvanians who work for a living, while McCormick has shown he will do and say anything to benefit himself and his wealthy Wall Street friends.”