Republicans got the recruit they've literally been begging for on Thursday when wealthy former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick launched his long-awaited campaign against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania.
McCormick has no serious intra-party opposition in sight more than a year after he lost the primary for the state's other Senate seat to Mehmet Oz by less than 1,000 votes. However, Democrats are hoping that damage from that ill-fated campaign―as well as ongoing questions about McCormick's ties to the Keystone State―will teach NRSC chair Steve Daines to be careful about what he begs for.
McCormick, who deployed $14 million of his own money to support his last bid, spent his first campaign touting himself as an ardent foe of abortion rights. As Chris Potter of WESA reminds us, McCormick was asked at a 2022 debate, "Should there be exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of a mother?"
The candidate responded that the only time abortion should be allowed was "the very rare instances there should be exceptions for life of the mother." While McCormick had said at an earlier event that "I do accept three exceptions … rape, incest, and life of the mother," Potter points out that his campaign didn't appear to have any problem with media reports from the debate relaying that he only accepted the final one.
But that was before numerous Republicans, including Oz, lost in the midterms after Democrats emphasized abortion rights. McCormick, who doesn't want the same fate to befall him, is now trying to pivot while insisting he's doing no such thing. "Dave’s position has been consistent since day one," claimed a spokesperson. "He is pro-life and supports exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother." The state Democratic Party has a different take, charging that the candidate is "lying in an attempt to cover up his long track record of supporting an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest."
McCormick's detractors also haven't forgotten how Donald Trump, while stumping for Oz ahead of the primary, warned that McCormick was "not MAGA, he’s not MAGA." Trump continued, "I do know that he was with a company that managed money for communist China, and he is absolutely the candidate of special interests and globalists and the Washington establishment." While McCormick doesn't have any primary foes at the moment who might try to use Trump's old words against him, Democrats might utilize them next year if they try to convince Trump voters not to support the former hedge fund manager.
Casey is also sure to make use of an August Associated Press story reporting that McCormick spends much of his time in a $16 million Connecticut mansion that "features a 1,500-bottle wine cellar, an elevator and a 'private waterfront resort' overlooking Long Island Sound."
While the now-candidate grew up in Pennsylvania and has long owned property there, the AP reported that McCormick carried out virtual interviews earlier this year from his New England mansion, a fact the reporter was able to ascertain because "[d]istinguishing features in the background match pictures that were posted publicly before the McCormicks moved in."
McCormick's team declined to answer the AP's questions about how much of his time he spends in Connecticut. The three-term Casey, by contrast, is the son and namesake of the popular former governor who served from 1987 to 1995.
Republicans, meanwhile, hope that McCormick's vast personal resources and service in the Gulf War will make him the strong challenger that Oz, who had his own residency issues, very much was not. But in an era where ticket-splitting is largely on the decline, the biggest question hovering over this race may be whether Trump can replicate his shock 2016 win or if the Keystone State will once again vote for Joe Biden.
Click here to stop Republicans from snatching the Senate!