Dave McCormick may not have the fondest memories of his unsuccessful Pennsylvania Senate campaign. But he still sounds like someone who wants to run again.
“While there are a few aspects of being a candidate that I’d like to forget, the experience was for the most part exhilarating and humbling because of the incredible people I met along the way,” he writes in his book “Superpower in Peril: A Battle Plan to Renew America” coming out on Tuesday, according to an excerpt shared with NBC News.
Some Pennsylvania Republicans are viewing McCormick’s book, and his travels across the state promoting it, as signs that he is preparing to launch another run for Senate, this time against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. McCormick hasn’t made a final decision about the race yet, according to three sources close to the former hedge fund manager.
“He’s thinking about this and trying to figure out what’s happening, where the support is. I don’t think he wants to go through — or anybody does — a primary like we had last year,” said Alleghany County GOP Chairman Sam DeMarco, who encouraged McCormick to run when they met for dinner last month.
Other Republicans feel the same way, especially after a costly and divisive primary damaged last year’s Senate nominee, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who defeated McCormick by just 951 votes in the primary (but who lost the general election in November). And they’re also hoping McCormick runs again.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP’s main Senate campaign arm, invited McCormick to be its featured speaker during last month’s winter meeting, and NRSC Chairman Steve Daines touted McCormick as a potentially strong Senate candidate, according to a source who was in the room.
“It’s important that we have candidates that can both win the primary and the general election,” Daines said in a brief interview at the Capitol on Thursday, placing some emphasis on the word “and.”
McCormick “would be a candidate that I think unites Republicans in Pennsylvania and he’d be a very strong candidate in the primary and the general,” Daines said.
And the Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is “focused on Dave McCormick as a candidate who can run and win this race,” said spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair.
The push to recruit McCormick comes as Doug Mastriano, the controversial former state senator who lost last year’s gubernatorial general election by 15 percentage points, has flirted with a Senate run, recently telling Politico that he is “praying” on it.
It’s not clear how much the early party support could help McCormick in a contested primary against a candidate aligned with former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz over McCormick last year.
Trump slammed McCormick at a rally before the primary as “not MAGA” and someone who is “totally controlled” by McConnell. Other attacks from last year’s primary, including McCormick’s business dealings with China, could resurface if he runs again, to Democrats’ delight.
“For months, Pennsylvania Republicans savaged McCormick over his record of outsourcing jobs and for his close ties to China, Wall Street and Mitch McConnell,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman David Bergstein. “With Mastriano making noises about entering the race, Republicans’ Senate primary dynamics in Pennsylvania are getting messier by the day.”
McCormick’s allies say he’ll be ready for those attacks after weathering them last year. They argue his roots in Pennsylvania, his service in the Army and in former President George W. Bush’s administration, and his business success make him an appealing recruit. Not to mention his ability to spend millions of his own funds on a campaign.
Aside from McCormick and Mastriano, there aren’t many other potential candidates’ names floating around GOP circles. Some Republicans mentioned state Treasurer Stacy Garrity could be one to watch, but were skeptical she would run. Her office did not return a request for comment.
Pennsylvania is a top target for Republicans next year, and Oz and Mastriano’s losses have some considering coalescing around one candidate early in the race to avoid another messy primary.
“I think that would be the general game plan,” said Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., who did not endorse in last year’s Senate primary. “Most people who like to win would do something like that.”