Pennsylvania Republican US Senate candidate David McCormick was due to visit the Mexico border Wednesday to accept the endorsement of the head of the Border Patrol’s union, in what could be a crucial show of support in a crowded Republican primary.
McCormick led the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, until last month and would face TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, former Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. nominee Jeff Bartos and former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands in a May primary to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
“Strong borders can only be achieved with strong leadership and Dave McCormick embodies the kind of strength needed to uphold the rule of law,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said in a statement distributed by McCormick’s campaign.
McCormick will visit the border near Yuma, Ariz., to accept the endorsement as he seeks to beat back Oz’s attention-grabbing campaign, which has faulted McCormick’s international business interests.
McCormick recently was endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — two China hawks who could help McCormick blunt one of Oz’s main points of attack.
Bridgewater raised $1.25 billion last year for new investments in China — making the firm one of the top foreign investors in the authoritarian nation, according to the Wall Street Journal — and leading Oz to describe McCormick as “China’s Friend, Not Ours.”
Notable Oz backers include former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.). Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) recently attended an Oz “friend-raiser” in Manhattan.
Former President Donald Trump has not yet announced an endorsement in the primary and his former aides are scattered across the competing camps. Prominent onetime White House figures Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway are among those backing McCormick.
Both Oz and McCormick met recently with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
McCormick’s visit to the border reflects broad Republican criticism of President Biden’s immigration policies following a record 1.9 million arrests last year at the southern border.
“One year of Joe Biden has created a crisis at our border and led to even more crime in sanctuary cities like Philadelphia and fentanyl flowing into and destroying our Pennsylvania communities,” McCormick said in a statement.
“Every state is a border state when Joe Biden and his administration incentivize illegal immigration with open border policies that allow the unfettered influx of illegal immigrants into the country, increase drug and human trafficking, and have led to a tragic display of human suffering and exploitation on our border,” he added.
Representatives of the Bartos, Oz and Sands campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The victor in the GOP primary will seek to retain the swing-state seat for Republicans. Democratic contenders include gruff and goateed Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who wore shorts last month when he greeted Biden in snow-covered Pittsburgh, and Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.).