After Parnell exit, former Pa. CEO with ties to Bush and Trump eyes U.S. Senate run
With beleaguered candidate Sean Parnell out of the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, Republicans are looking for a replacement to take on Democrats.
A name that is coming up a lot is David McCormick, according to three GOP sources in Pennsylvania.
McCormick has not publicly confirmed a run, but he is being urged by Pennsylvania Republican operatives, the sources told the USA TODAY Network Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau.
"David McCormick will quickly emerge as the frontrunner," Greg Manz, a former spokesman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania who worked on both Trump campaigns, said in a tweet Nov. 5. "His public policy bona fides are second to none and he will showcase a preeminent fundraising prowess." Manz said the same in a Politico story a day earlier.
McCormick's potential candidacy swirled before Parnell exited the race Tuesday upon losing a custody battle after his estranged wife accused him of abuse.
But once the Trump-endorsed Parnell suspended his campaign, attention shifted to McCormick, a business executive, former government official and combat veteran.
McCormick could not immediately be reached for comment on his potential candidacy.
The GOP is looking to hold on to the seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from the Lehigh Valley who is sticking to a self-imposed term limit.
Democrats currently have a narrow 51-50 majority in the U.S. Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.
Pennsylvania's open seat in the 2022 U.S. Senate race is crucial to both parties and is viewed by analysts as most likely to be flipped in the midterms.
Who is David McCormick?
McCormick could be a strong option for Republicans in a race that hasn't really had a GOP frontrunner.
In most polls, the overwhelming majority of Republicans have said they were undecided. Before Parnell dropped out, he was getting 10% of Republican support, according to the most recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll.
McCormick is a Pittsburgh-area native who could appeal to conservatives and moderates with his resume in the military, business and government.
He's one of more than 130 Republicans who signed a legal document in support of gay marriage. He's also a Republican who worked in the second Bush administration, largely focusing on economics and foreign policy.
He grew up in Washington County and moved to Bloomsburg, where his father, James McCormick, was president at Bloomsburg University. The elder McCormick also served as a former chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
The younger McCormick in 1987 graduated from West Point and went on to become an Army Ranger, serving in the Gulf War in 1991 and earning a bronze star.
In 1996, he earned a doctorate degree from Princeton University. Earlier this year, he received an honorary degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.
After his military service, he worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. in Pittsburgh, a connection that eventually led him to being CEO at FreeMarkets Inc., an internet auction house founded by Glen Meakem and Sam Kinney Jr. in 1995. McCormick sold FreeMarkets to Ariba Inc. for $493 million in November 2004.
A year later, McCormick was tapped by former President George W. Bush to serve in his administration in a range of roles: under secretary of commerce for industry and security, deputy national security advisor for international economic policy, and under secretary of the treasury for international affairs.
In 2009, he joined Connecticut-based Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world with more than $140 billion in assets. He became co-CEO in 2016 and sole CEO in 2020.
Late in former President Donald Trump's administration, he was in consideration to lead the Department of Defense.
McCormick's wife, Dina Powell McCormick, was a senior advisor to Trump until January 2018. She had also previously worked in the second Bush administration in education and cultural affairs.
Who's running for U.S. Senate in Pa.?
The field of candidates for the 2022 U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania is growing every week.
Democrats have a strong field of candidates who are heavily out-fundraising Republicans in the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, which is expected to be one of the most expensive and consequential races in the 2022 midterms.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is leading the slate of candidates in money raised and polled support, followed by Congressman Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, Dr. Val Arkoosh and others.
On the Republican side, businessman Jeff Bartos, former Trump ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and Army veteran Kathy Barnette are running, among others.
Barnette gained notoriety when she pushed Trump's unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. She said she is running to become the first Black Republican woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a daytime TV show host and cardiothoracic surgeon, is also eyeing a run for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, according to reports earlier this month.
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Pennsylvania Capital Bureau. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.