Republicans hope Bridgewater boss can win tight race for Senate

When longtime private equity executive Glenn Youngkin won the race for governor of Virginia last month, Republicans thought they had found the winning formula for the post-Trump era.

Now, party members in Pennsylvania are betting that another conservative financier, Bridgewater’s chief executive, David McCormick, will be able to take a similar political turn to win the race. State Senate next year.

To do so, advocates say, McCormick must rely on his impressive CV and a substantial amount of cash to secure support not only from Donald Trump’s base, but also among voters independent and moderate who abandoned the Republicans during the last presidential administration.

For his supporters, McCormick, 56, is an even more appealing version of Youngkin, former CEO of Carlyle. In addition to having previously held a high-profile job in the private sector, the Bridgewater boss is also a veteran with the Bronze Star, who has government experience and a PhD from Princeton.

McCormick has yet to officially join a field teeming with Republican Senate hopefuls, including Trump’s ambassador to Denmark, reality TV star Dr Oz and a local real estate developer .

But people close to the hedge-fund boss said he had informed colleagues of his plans and would give up managing the massive $150 billion fund in the coming weeks to embark on a strategy. political translation.

“We have the opportunity here for someone quite special, and special,” said Daniel Meuser, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who has supported McCormick’s tentative candidacy. is what we need to win.

McCormick, who lives in Connecticut but grew up in central Pennsylvania, has been meeting with party leaders, donors and activists in Keystone State in recent days to spark interest.

The race for the Pennsylvania Senate will be one of the most closely watched midterms next year, when Republicans will seek to regain control of both houses of Congress.

McCormick’s allies say they see similarities between his candidate and Youngkin, a political newcomer who has built a broad coalition of supporters in Virginia, which Biden and the Party Democrats took over 10 points in 2020. Biden beat Trump by a razor-sharp margin. more than 80,000 in Pennsylvania last year.

However, people close to McCormick also expect the political newcomer to enter the race in Pennsylvania with a stronger resume than Youngkin. A graduate of the prestigious West Point military academy, he served in the First Gulf War and eventually landed a prominent Treasury role under George W Bush.

He then joined Bridgewater, the idiosyncratic hedge fund founded by Ray Dalio, becoming co-CEO in 2016 and sole chief executive officer last year.

McCormick with Donald Trump in New Jersey in 2016. McCormick has a clear relationship with the former president: his wife, Dina Powell McCormick, spent a year as Trump’s deputy national security adviser © Getty Images

“It was a time in America where the Glenn Youngkins and Dave McCormick of the world were essential in the Republican party to restore stability,” said one McCormick campaigner.

The person added: “You can still be a conservative, you can be principled, without being rude or offensive. There’s a way to do it, to still get those Trump voters that aren’t Trump.”

McCormick’s advisers say he will need to thread a needle similar to Youngkin, who gained the interest of rural voters following endorsement from Trump but later retained the former president. campaign to appeal to suburban moderates.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman from the Lehigh Valley who is yet to endorse a candidate in the Senate race. “Trump endorsement can be used in a preliminary meeting, but it can also be the kiss of death in general.”

Trump may throw his weight to another state of Pennsylvania hopefully after the candidate he initially endorsed, Army veteran Sean Parnell, suspended his campaign last month amid widespread criticism. The estranged wife alleges domestic abuse.

McCormick has a clear relationship with Trump’s White House: his wife, Dina Powell McCormick, who is a partner at Goldman Sachs, spent a year as Trump’s deputy national security adviser.

Several former Trump advisers have encouraged McCormick to run, and the former president last week hinted he might back the hedge fund boss, telling conservative host Hugh Hewitt that “a few people” he described as “excellent” having entered the race in Pennsylvania.

But McCormick also seems to win over some Trump critics. William Sasso, a longtime Republican political donor from Philadelphia who says he has “absolutely no sympathy” for the former president, said he sees similarities between McCormick and the incoming GOP senator. State incumbent Pat Toomey, who doesn’t support Trump’s establishment.

“[Toomey] not an ideology like many others on both sides of the aisle. If he feels something isn’t right for the country, he’s going to announce it, no matter who’s promoting it, Democrats or Republicans,” Sasso said. “I was struck by Dave McCormick in that I believe he was cut from the same fabric.”

“I think most people realize that [McCormick] not a Trumper,” added Sasso.

For now, people close to McCormick are wanting to counter suggestions that he is an uncontacted “carpet seller” – accusations that have vexed Oz – and instead emphasize his education. the CEO’s humble education and relationship with the local community.

“There are some people who are of native blood and he is one of them,” said Mike DeVanney, a political strategist in Pittsburgh who advises McCormick.

Still, others conceded that McCormick’s hedge fund credentials could be a campaign hole, with opponents likely to be interested in Bridgewater’s investments – especially especially in China – or be wiped out by the candidate’s personal assets.

Dalio made headlines this month when he likened China’s human rights abuses to the behavior of a “strict parent”. He later apologized for the lack of nuance and McCormick sought to distance himself from the comments.

However, McCormick’s allies insist his successes in the business world will be an asset in selling himself to voters.

DeVanney added: “He is someone who has become self-sufficient. “I think he is someone who is not afraid to achieve that.”

McCormick’s current and former colleagues describe him as charming, confident, and someone who holds himself and those around him to the highest standards. But some expressed skepticism about whether he would easily transition from boardroom to campaign.

“If you say he is going to be the next Republican Secretary of the Treasury. . . that wouldn’t surprise me,” said someone who worked with McCormick in the Bush administration.

“But as someone on the campaign trail, you have to have the patience to happily shake people’s hands and yuk it?” they added. “That’s not the Dave McCormick I know.”

https://www.ft.com/content/f356024e-c6cb-4cbe-b381-3218f9f9c367 Republicans hope Bridgewater boss can win tight race for Senate

Huynh Nguyen

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