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A former Treasury official, Mr. McCormick has drawn comparisons to Glenn Youngkin, the financier recently elected governor of Virginia.
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Kate Kelly and
David McCormick, the former chief executive of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, filed paperwork to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican on Wednesday, entering a crowded but unsettled field in what is likely to be one of the most hotly contested midterm elections.
A former Treasury Department official and a former Army captain, Mr. McCormick, 56, joins a number of other major Republican and Democratic contenders vying to succeed Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican, who is retiring. His official announcement is expected in the next day or two, according to a campaign adviser, Kristin Davison.
Mr. McCormick’s filing came after the Pennsylvania Democratic Party asked federal election officials last week to investigate his spending large sums for television ads in the Pittsburgh region without declaring himself a candidate.
The race is for the only open Senate seat in a state won by President Biden and is seen as a tossup, making it a critical battleground for control of the chamber, now divided 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris’s deciding vote giving Democrats a majority.
The early jockeying in the Republican field has been characterized by most candidates’ efforts to win the support of grass-roots voters who backed former President Donald J. Trump. They include Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator who has fanned the false conspiracy that Mr. Trump won Pennsylvania in 2020, and Carla Sands, a wealthy former ambassador to Denmark under Mr. Trump, who has promised to “stand up to woke culture, censorship, and critical race theory.” Dr. Mehmet Oz, the heart surgeon and longtime television host, has framed his candidacy as a conservative response to the pandemic, criticizing mandates, shutdowns and actions by “elites” that restricted “our freedom.”
Mr. McCormick has his own personal tie to Mr. Trump: His wife, Dina Powell McCormick, served on the National Security Council during the first year of the Trump Administration. The two were married in 2019. Hope Hicks, a former Trump aide, has been advising Mr. McCormick’s team, and other former Trump staffers, including Stephen Miller, are expected to do so, according to Politico.
Five months ahead of the May primary, the field is wide open, especially since the withdrawal in November of Sean Parnell, who was endorsed by Mr. Trump. Mr. Parnell suspended his campaign after losing a custody fight with his estranged wife, who accused him of spousal and child abuse.
In a sign of what is sure to be a highly competitive G.O.P. race with several wealthy contenders, Mr. McCormick drew attacks even before he joined the race. A super PAC supporting Dr. Oz unveiled a digital ad this week criticizing Mr. McCormick “as a friend of China with a long record of selling us out.” Bridgewater manages some $1.5 billion for Chinese investors, and its only other office outside of Connecticut is in Shanghai. And Jeff Bartos, a real estate developer who is also seeking the Senate nomination as a Republican, accused Mr. McCormick of sending Pennsylvania jobs to India in 2003.
The McCormick campaign disputed the characterization made by Mr. Bartos, and, on China, pointed to his record while a senior trade official in the Commerce Department in the George W. Bush administration. “These attacks from the Oz camp are a desperate attempt of a candidate whose failure to launch has stalled his campaign,’’ said Jim Shultz, a former aide to Pennsylvania’s last Republican governor, Tom Corbett, and a supporter of Mr. McCormick.
Democrats also face a crowded primary contest. Unlike the Republicans, the leading Democrats in the race have experience in elected office. One theme that could animate the general election, depending on who emerges as the G.O.P. nominee, is the issue of who is an authentic Pennsylvanian. Dr. Oz, Ms. Sands and now Mr. McCormick all have roots in the state, but lived elsewhere in recent years and returned to run for Senate.
Ideologically, Republicans promoting Mr. McCormick’s bid have drawn comparisons between him and Glenn Youngkin, the former private equity executive who won the Virginia governor’s race in November by attracting the support of moderates as well as Trump devotees.
Largely unknown outside the financial world, Mr. McCormick grew up in Bloomsburg, Pa., near Wilkes-Barre. He graduated from West Point and served five years in the Army, then earned a Ph.D. in international relations at Princeton.
A McKinsey consultant for several years, Mr. McCormick later ran the Pittsburgh-based internet auction company FreeMarkets, then sold it to the larger tech company Ariba in 2004.
He joined Bridgewater in 2009 and in 2017, he was named co-C.E.O. of the Westport, Conn.-based hedge fund, which manages $150 billion in assets. His name was repeatedly floated to be the Defense Department deputy during the Trump administration.
In 2020, he became Bridgewater’s sole chief executive after his co-chief, Eileen Murray, left the firm. She later sued Bridgewater over a pay dispute that she said stemmed partly from gender discrimination. The suit was settled in 2020.
On Jan. 3, Mr. McCormick announced his resignation from Bridgewater, calling his potential Senate run “a way of devoting the next chapter of my life to public service” in a farewell email to employees.
Mr. McCormick bought a home recently in Pittsburgh’s East End to re-establish residency in the state, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. He had split his time between Connecticut and New York City in recent years, though since about 2010 he has owned the family Christmas tree farm where he was raised.
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