Dem 51
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GOP 49
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If at First You Don't Succeed...

In the 2022 U.S. Senate primaries, Pennsylvania Republicans had a choice between former Trump administration official David McCormick and crudité-loving quack Mehmet Oz. They went with Oz, of course, and he went on to an ignominious defeat at the hands of Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA).

Now, Republicans "across the party's spectrum" (according to The Hill) think that GOP primary voters made a big mistake, and that McCormick was the smarter choice all along. So, there is now a "draft McCormick" movement underway, with an eye toward 2024, when Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) will be up. McCormick is quite clearly interested in another go-round; he's traveling around right now promoting his book, and has refused to say "I'm not running" when asked directly.

It's understandable why Republican operatives think McCormick might be their white knight. He's Trumpy, by virtue of having worked for the former president, but he's got a bit less baggage than Oz did, and has some chance of appealing to moderate voters. Further, because he's already run a campaign, he's battle-tested and has high name recognition. Implicit in potentially recycling McCormick off the scrap heap, even if GOP pooh-bahs don't say it openly, is that the Republican bench in the Keystone State is pretty thin.

All of this said, there are some pretty serious obstacles between McCormick and a U.S. Senate seat. To start with, he's not really that battle-tested. He hasn't been put under the microscope in an aggressive manner, and he didn't have 4-5 months of general-election campaigning to insert his foot into his mouth. Recall that nearly all of the embarrassing, out-of-touch things that Oz said and did came during general election season, not primary season.

McCormick also shares one of Oz's biggest weaknesses, namely that they are both carpetbaggers. Oz is really from New Jersey and McCormick is really from Connecticut. Some voters do not care for interlopers, particularly if those interlopers don't fully grasp local issues, and tend to screw up when it comes to local institutions (Redner's? Wegmans? Wegners?)

In addition, it's all well and good to be the candidate of the fellows in the smoke-filled room. But the party doesn't decide anymore, and by all indications, it's MAGA voters who call the shots in Pennsylvania primaries these days. There's nothing to stop Doug Mastriano (or someone like him) from jumping in to the Senate race, and given the lessons of the past few years, we would have to assume that person would be the favorite, or at least a serious contender.

Finally, 2024 is a presidential year and Casey is an incumbent. Both of those things are serious problems for a Republican challenger, as both of those things will tend to give the Senator a built-in advantage. Add it all up, and we wonder if McCormick won't take a long look at the contest and decide he doesn't want to put himself through the ringer again. (Z)

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