Mar 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

McCormick hits the mat with first ad in Pennsylvania Senate race

Dave McCormick, wearing a black shirt, is shown standing on a red wrestling mat.

Screenshot: Friends of Dave McCormick

Republican David McCormick is launching one of the first general election Senate ads of 2024, with a biographical spot that focuses on the glory and grit of high school wrestling in Pennsylvania.

Why it matters: McCormick — who was pilloried by his 2022 GOP primary opponent for having been CEO of Connecticut-based Bridgewater Associates, one of the world's largest hedge funds — is spending early to tell his Pennsylvania story on his terms.

  • McCormick hopes to draw on his years as a high school competitor — which helped propel him to West Point — to avoid getting pinned down as a Connecticut carpetbagger by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.), who's seeking his fourth term.
  • "Pennsylvania wrestling taught me to do the hard thing: Hard work. Hard choices," McCormick tells the camera, with cut-away shots to newspaper clippings of his high school triumphs.
  • "That's not what we get from Washington. The career politicians don't do the hard work."

The ad is part of a seven-figure buy that will run across Pennsylvania and include spots during the NCAA basketball tournament, according to a McCormick campaign adviser.

Zoom in: McCormick lost a vicious GOP primary in 2022 to Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, who went on to lose to Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.).

  • This time Republicans have cleared the field for McCormick, allowing him to square off with Casey months ahead of the Nov. 5 election.
  • McCormick is one of the GOP's best-capitalized challengers. His campaign and related committees raised $5.4 million last quarter and McCormick kicked in another $1 million of his own money.
  • A super PAC supporting him, with big Wall Street names including Steve Schwarzman and Ken Griffin, has raised $18 million.
  • Casey raised $3.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2023. He is criss-crossing the state, picking up endorsements and hitting McCormick for his old investment firm's ties to China.

Zoom out: Pennsylvania is one of several Senate races that will determine whether Republicans take control of the chamber from Democrats, who now have a slim majority.

  • In the last two presidential cycles, Senate races have closely tracked the presidential contest. That dynamic, if it holds, will tie McCormick's fate to former President Trump's.
  • A CNN poll released last week had Trump and President Biden tied at 46% in Pennsylvania.
  • Earlier this month, a survey from Emerson College Polling/The Hill had Casey up 45-41, with 14% undecided.

The bottom line: Pennsylvania's Senate race — with two big media markets (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh) running ads and the Biden-Trump rematch as a backdrop — will be among the most expensive in the country.

  • It's likely to be a political wrestling match.
  • And as McCormick says in his ad: "On the wrestling mat, there's no place to hide."

Watch the ad.

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