Key Senate Endorsement: Trump Backs McCormick in PA After Previous Snub

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    AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

    On Saturday, during a campaign rally in the eastern Pennsylvania town of Schnecksville, former President Donald Trump threw his support behind Republican Senate candidate David McCormick. Trump urged his supporters to “Go out and vote for him” in what promises to be one of 2024’s closely watched Senate races.

    Trump told rally-goers:

    Trump also had some choice words for Pennsylvania’s incumbent Democrat Senator Bob Casey on his birthday, telling voters, “Casey doesn’t do a damn thing.” 

    Trump’s endorsement of McCormick turns the page on a contentious dynamic between the two, as Trump previously endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2022 during a crowded primary for a seat left open by Republican Senator Pat Toomey, sinking McCormick’s candidacy.

    According to McCormick, during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, Trump insisted that to win in the primary, McCormick needed to say that the 2020 election was stolen. McCormick says that he refused, and three days later Trump endorsed Oz and launched attacks at McCormick on the campaign trail. At a rally in western Pennsylvania just days before the 2022 primary, Trump disparaged McCormick, stating, “He’s not MAGA,” and characterized McCormick’s association with a hedge fund, saying that he “managed money for communist China,” and calling him “the candidate of special interests and globalists and the Washington establishment.”

    Trump had previously endorsed Sean Parnell to succeed Toomey before Parnell withdrew his candidacy amid allegations from his estranged wife. Parnell had endorsed McCormick and expressed disappointment that Trump endorsed Oz, writing on social media:

    McCormick conceded to Oz amid a mandatory primary election recount triggered by Oz’s lead of less than half a percentage point, totaling 972 votes. The candidates had waged legal battles over the recount and mail ballots that arrived on time but did not include a date written by voters. Oz lost in the general election to Democrat John Fetterman by a margin of nearly five points.

    McCormick was not in attendance at Trump’s campaign rally on Saturday, due to a prior commitment with his daughter, according to a spokesperson. 

    Responding on social media, he wrote:

    Trump’s endorsement signifies his second endorsement this week in a pivotal swing state. He recently backed Captain Sam Brown (Ret.) in Nevada’s contest, calling it a “united ticket” on Truth Social and ending intense jockeying between the GOP challengers bidding to face Democrat Jacky Rosen in the general election.

    Among the dozen GOP challengers are Dr. Jeff Gunter, Trump’s former Ambassador to Iceland, who is running on a “110% pro-Trump” platform, and former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who Trump endorsed in his failed 2022 bid for Secretary of State while running on an election integrity platform. Brown is notably the least Trump-branded candidate of the three and is polling much better in general election models.

    Like McCormick, in 2022, Brown was also snubbed in the primary, with Trump endorsing his opponent, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Similarly, Laxalt had pushed claims of election fraud in Nevada after 2020, while Brown, by contrast, stated that he believed Joe Biden won the election. Laxalt lost to incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto by the narrowest margin of any Senate race in the country, 0.77 percent.

    It seems that Trump is making better endorsements this election cycle, at minimum, not giving the appearance of a strong personal bias, by twice teaming with leading candidates in critical races that he previously bypassed. While eight out of sixteen Trump-backed Senate candidates won in 2022, many in high-profile races lost, including Laxalt, Oz, Herschel Walker in Georgia, and Blake Masters in Arizona, all pivotal battlegrounds crucial for the GOP’s Senate control bid.

    It appears that a previously rumored “election fraud litmus test” has been discarded for other metrics, including polling, fundraising capabilities, and electability, thus putting decisive symbolic ends to the Republican primaries in key states so that more time and money can be directed to flipping the Senate in November.

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