Jan 13, 2022
McCormick’s Bridgewater-Era Donations Hint at GOP Network to Tap
(Bloomberg) -- Republican David McCormick plans to fund his Senate campaign in Pennsylvania largely from his own pocket, according to a person familiar with the matter, though the former Bridgewater Associates CEO also has a large roster of potential donors.
McCormick can dip into his own coffers, since candidates can spend as much of their money as they want to bankroll their campaigns. But his history as a donor shows the first-time candidate might have some big contributors to tap as well.
While McCormick’s campaign web site allows people to give small donations, he plans to spend his own money throughout the campaign as well, according to a person familiar, who asked not to be named discussing information that isn’t public.
McCormick wrote checks to politicians, parties and political action committees totaling a little more than $318,000 since 2009 Federal Election Commission records show, almost all of them Republicans. He’s given to some of the party’s leading figures, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and the late Senator John McCain. He gave to the Republican National Committee and a nonpartisan super PAC that got millions from Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and his family.
His candidacy draws comparisons to Republican Glenn Youngkin, former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group Inc., who registered an upset victory in November’s Virginia gubernatorial election. Youngkin, raised $68 million for his campaign, including $21 million of his own money.
Blackstone chief executive officer Steve Schwarzman is backing McCormick’s bid, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing information that isn’t public.
In 2015, McCormick supported Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s presidential ambitions, giving $2,700 to his campaign and $5,000 to his leadership PAC. McCormick, who served in the administration of George W. Bush, did not donate to the eventual nominee, former President Donald Trump, in either 2016 or 2020.
But McCormick does have some ties to Trump’s administration in addition to his wife, Dina Powell McCormick, the Goldman Sachs executive who served as Trump’s deputy national security adviser. He’s tapped Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller and Cliff Sims, all of whom worked in the White House, as official advisers for his campaign. And in 2015, he donated $1,000 to the congressional campaigns of Ryan Zinke, Trump’s first Interior secretary and Mike Pompeo, Trump’s second secretary of State.
He’s also citing the former president in his pitch to small-dollar donors, saying he’ll restore the America First agenda in Washington on WinRed, the online fundraising platform for small-dollar donors that Trump promoted as a Republican version of ActBlue.
FEC records show McCormick is familiar with the latter as well. He used ActBlue to donate $199 to the 2018 primary campaign of Dan Helmer, a Democrat and veteran who ran unsuccessfully to challenge Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock in Virginia’s 10th district. Jennifer Wexton defeated Helmer in the primary and Comstock in the 2018 general election.
If he’s looking for contributions for his own campaign, his Bridgewater colleagues might be a hard sell. The firm’s employees gave 75% of their donations to Democrats in 2020 according to the Center for Responsive Politics, though they favored Republicans as recently as 2016.
As a West Point graduate and Gulf War veteran, McCormick might look to the With Honor Fund for backing. The nonpartisan super PAC supports candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, who have military experience. McCormick gave it $45,000, but it has had much more generous donors, including Bezos, who gave it $10 million in 2018, and his parents, Jacklyn and Miguel Bezos, who gave it $2 million in 2020.
McCormick faces a crowded GOP primary for the Pennsylvania senate seat to replace retiring Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey. His opponents include Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician who hosted the “Dr. Oz” television show. Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and billionaire Steve Wynn are scheduled to hold a Jan. 21 fundraiser for Oz in Palm Beach, Florida.
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