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.