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Republican Dave McCormick launches bid for vulnerable Senate seat in battleground state

It’s take two for Dave McCormick in battleground Pennsylvania.

McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, West Point graduate, Gulf War combat veteran and Treasury Department official in former President George W. Bush’s administration, on Thursday launched his second straight campaign for the Senate. 

His announcement gives national and state Republicans a high-profile candidate with the ability to self finance. McCormick had been courted to run against longtime Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. — a race that could ultimately decide whether the GOP wins back the Senate majority in 2024.

‘I have total faith and confidence in the people of Pennsylvania,’ McCormick said, but he stressed the need for leadership in Washington, D.C. ‘That is why today, I am announcing my candidacy for the United States Senate,’ McCormick said as he launched his Senate bid at Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

Asked why he was running again for the Senate, McCormick said in an interview with Fox News Digital that ‘the motivation is the same in the sense that I really feel that the country’s headed in the wrong direction.’

‘Whether it’s the immigration crisis or the economy or record high inflation, whether it’s the war on our domestic energy sector, I think the need to get great leaders into public life who can really make a difference and be independent and try to break the gridlock in Washington, which is failing us, is key,’ McCormick said.

And he took aim at Casey, tying the three-term Democratic senator and son of popular former Pennsylvania governor as well as President Biden, whose approval ratings remain well in negative territory.

‘Bob Casey is an 18-year senator. He’s been in politics 30 years and really hasn’t’ accomplished very much at all. He’s been a rubber-stamp for Joe Biden. He’s voted for Joe Biden 98% of the time,’ McCormick said. ‘If I can win this seat, I can really be a force for good in pushing back on Joe Biden’s policies.’

Casey, who served a decade as the state’s auditor general and then treasurer before winning election to the Senate in 2006, is not expected to face any serious primary challenge for the Democratic nomination.

McCormick may escape a crowded and combustible battle for the 2024 GOP Senate nomination similar to the one he faced last year. McCormick ended up losing the nomination by a race thin margin to celebrity doctor and cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz, who secured a primary victory thanks to a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Oz ended up losing the general election last November to now-Democratic Sen. John Fetterman.

Asked about lessons learned from his first campaign, McCormick noted in his Fox News interview that he entered the race ‘a lot earlier this time.’

‘When you lose by 900 votes, there’s lots of lessons that you can learn. And so I’ve tried to learn all the things that came out of that last race and despite losing it was a great experience,’ he emphasized. ‘The most important thing is to get out there and be authentic.’

McCormick immediately won praise from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the campaign arm of the Senate GOP.

‘Dave McCormick has done a remarkable job of unifying the grassroots in Pennsylvania. A graduate of West Point, combat veteran and Pennsylvania job creator, Dave is exactly the type of candidate who can win both a primary and a general election in one of the most competitive states in the country. It’s great news that Dave is stepping up to serve our country once again.’ NRSC chair Steve Daines wrote in a statement shared with Fox News.

A race between Casey and McCormick could end up being one of the most expensive and closely watched Senate contests in the country next year, as the Democrats defend their fragile 51-49 majority.

Republicans need a net gain of either one or two seats in 2024 to win back the majority — depending on which party controls the White House after next year’s presidential election. 

The math and the map favor the GOP, as the Democrats are defending 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs, including three in red states and a handful in key general election battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania.

McCormick will likely once again come under attack — as both he and Oz did last year — over residency.

Oz was repeatedly criticized for relocating to Pennsylvania after living for decades in neighboring New Jersey. And McCormick, who grew up in northeast Pennsylvania and who’s the son of the Keystone state’s first state university system chancellor, was attacked for owning a home in an affluent part of Connecticut even buying a home in Pittsburgh ahead of his 2022 Senate campaign.

‘The real David McCormick is a mega-millionaire Connecticut hedge fund executive who is lying about living in Pennsylvania,’ the Pennsylvania Democrats charged in a release.

McCormick told Fox News that he is born and raised in Pennsylvania, lived most of his life there and ran a business in the state. ‘But like many Pennsylvanians, I’m divorced and remarried. My youngest daughter is finishing high school in Connecticut – she lives with her mom – and I’m going to go to Connecticut to see my daughter and to be a great dad,’ he said.

Attacks on his ties to Connecticut are a distraction, McCormick said.

Democrats are also blasting McCormick over the combustible issue of abortion.

Following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade last year, abortion restrictions returned to individual states — making it a major election issue.

Republicans have played defense as Democrats point to polling that shows most Americans favor at least some form of abortion access.

‘Dave McCormick wants to ban abortions, even in cases of rape or incest,’ the Senate Majority PAC — the top super PAC backing Senate Democrats — said in a release hours before Thursday’s campaign launch.

But McCormick told Fox News that ‘my position hasn’t changed. I’m pro-life.’ And he reiterated that ‘any limits on this [abortion] should be for exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. That’s what I consistently said throughout the campaign [last year]. So that position hasn’t changed.’

Asked about a 15-week federal ban that some Republicans in Congress and some GOP presidential candidates support, McCormick answered ‘I don’t support a national abortion ban.’

‘This is also an issue where I think we have to show a lot of compassion and look for common ground. Certainly, we can — and most Pennsylvanians and most Americans agree we should contraception and we have reasonable limits on late-term abortion. And that is a compassion position and a consensus position. And that’s the position I support,’ he emphasized.

And he claimed that ‘Bob Casey can’t name one limit on abortion he would support, even at eight or nine months. So, Bob Casey and the Democrats are supporting late-term abortions… I think that’s how I’ll talk about this on the campaign trail.’

In last year’s primary, Trump repeatedly criticized McCormick as ‘liberal Wall Street Republican,’ as he campaigned for Oz.

But if Trump secures the GOP nomination, the former president and McCormick would both be at the top of the GOP ticket in Pennsylvania.

‘It’s publicly documented that we’ve had our disagreements,’ McCormick said of his relationship with Trump. ‘There’s no doubt about that. We have different styles.’

‘But there’s a lot of things I said in the last campaign that I say in this campaign about the polices of President Trump that I think were great for the country, great for America,’ he added. ‘The country’s going in a terrible direction since Biden has been in office and that’s the case that I’ll make and I think many of the things that President Trump was advocating and put in place were taking us in the right direction.’

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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