The Republican primary for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania is about to be shaken up for the third time with the likely entry of David McCormick, a former Bush administration official and hedge-fund manager who is promising “a battle for the heart and soul of America.”
Bridgewater Associates announced Monday that Mr. McCormick is stepping down as CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund to consider the Senate bid.
“While we will miss him, we are also joyous for his opportunity to pursue his hero’s journey in service to our country,” the company said in a statement.
The firm, which manages more than $150 billion of assets, named two new co-chief executives.
Mr. McCormick also had given a clear sign just before New Year’s Eve that he intends to declare his candidacy for the Senate when he released a YouTube video alluding to the upcoming campaign.
“We have to win,” Mr. McCormick declared, while the narrator described the Gulf War veteran as “battled tested and Pennsylvania true.” The “Friends of Dave McCormick exploratory committee” also aired a Christmas-themed ad for him on TV over the holidays.
He also has been distancing himself from hedge-fund founder Ray Dalio’s public defenses of China.
With significant personal wealth and the support of heavy hitters in the state’s GOP establishment, Mr. McCormick is expected to become the main rival to Dr. Mehmet Oz, the television celebrity and surgeon who entered the race in November. His anticipated announcement could come at any time.
Mr. Oz got into the race after the Trump-endorsed candidate and early front-runner, Sean Parnell, suspended his campaign amid a bitter child custody battle.
Pittsburgh-based campaign consultant Mike DeVanney, who is advising Mr. McCormick, co-hosted a “meet-and-greet” for him with Republican National Committeewoman Christine Toretti in November.
He said the 130 attendees left the event with “real enthusiasm” for his pending candidacy.
“They see the quality of the candidate,” Mr. DeVanney, a founding partner of the consulting firm ColdSpark, said in an interview. “People want to win, and they want to win with someone who will be strong and who’s going to stay true to their convictions. The field has been unsettled. Even when Mehmet Oz got in, that didn’t clear the field.”
Mr. Oz announced Monday that he won’t accept corporate PAC money in his Senate campaign.
“I fought Big Pharma, I fought the medical establishment, and I have the scars to prove it,” he said in a video announcement. “I cannot be bought. I’m running so that people of Pennsylvania always have a seat at the table.”
Former Pennsylvania Republican Party Chair Rob Gleason recently told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he intends to endorse Mr. McCormick.
The race is for an open seat created by the retirement of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Among the Democratic candidates are Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Rep. Conor Lamb.
Mr. McCormick, 56, served as undersecretary of Treasury for international affairs in the George W. Bush administration. He was under consideration for posts at Treasury and Defense in the Trump administration, where his wife, Dina Powell, served as a top national security aide to the president.
Both he and Mr. Oz face questions about their residency. Mr. McCormick was born and raised in Pennsylvania, but has lived in Connecticut in recent years before buying a house in the state. Mr. Oz, who earned advanced degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, was a longtime New Jersey resident before establishing a home in suburban Philadelphia last year.
Mr. DeVanney pointed to Mr. McCormick’s long family history in the state and his parents’ careers as educators in central Pennsylvania.
“I would take his Pennsylvania roots against anybody,” he said.
Mr. McCormick is a graduate of West Point and was the honor graduate of the Ranger School, joining the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.