U.S. Senate prospect McCormick to share stage with GOP operative tied to fake elector scheme

‘Generally I think the majority of Pennsylvania voters frown on trying to overthrow the government,’ Democratic strategist Joe Corrigan said

By: - August 10, 2023 6:30 am

Dave McCormick

[This article was updated at 9:51 a.m., on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, to include a statement from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.]

Dave McCormick, who is widely expected to make a repeat bid for the GOP nomination to run for U.S. Senate next year, is set to share a stage Thursday with a prominent Pennsylvania Republican with a connection to former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

Sam DeMarco III and McCormick, who lost the Republican Senate primary last year, are on the bill of speakers with 10 other Republican candidates at a fundraiser Thursday evening in Allegheny County for the Bethel Park Republican Committee.

DeMarco, who is also chairperson of McCormick’s political action committee, Pennsylvania Rising, is one of 20 people who signed a certificate in December 2020 stating that they had cast electoral college votes for Trump when President Joe Biden had been declared the winner of the popular vote.

Trump and unnamed and uncharged co-conspirators are alleged in a federal indictment made public last week to have recruited so-called fraudulent electors in several battleground states the former president needed to win in 2020 to secure his reelection.

A spokesperson for McCormick did not respond to questions seeking McCormick’s comment on the Trump indictment, DeMarco’s role as a fraudulent elector, whether DeMarco would continue as chairperson of McCormick’s PAC, and whether McCormick would endorse Trump for president in 2024.

McCormick, 57, is a former CEO of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. He lost the 2022 GOP Senate primary to Dr. Mehmet Oz, who went on to lose the election to Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa. 

With Sen. Bob Casey running for election to a fourth term, McCormick is considered a likely candidate but has not announced if he will seek the Republican nomination.

Political observers and a Democratic strategist said McCormick’s affiliation with DeMarco are unlikely to be of much concern to Republican voters in a primary election, but in the general election it could turn away middle-of-the-road conservatives crucial to Republican victories here.

“Generally I think the majority of Pennsylvania voters frown on trying to overthrow the government so I think it is likely a liability in the general election,” said Joe Corrigan of the political consulting firm Edge Hill Strategies.

DeMarco and Republican strategist Charlie Gerow, who also signed the certificate, said DeMarco’s involvement in the scheme to submit electoral college votes for Trump to Congress should be of little concern to voters.

“The people who find it so are people who wouldn’t vote for our candidate anyway,” DeMarco said.

Both, who objected to the term “fake electors,” said what happened in Pennsylvania is far from the subversion of Constitutional law the Department of Justice alleges in Trump’s indictment. They noted that the certificate reads that the votes for Trump were cast only to preserve Trump’s right to the presidency only if the election results were overturned by a court.

Trump is charged in a four-count indictment filed Aug. 1 with engaging in conspiracies to defraud the U.S. government, obstruct an official proceeding, and obstruct the rights of voters in connection with his efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election and change the results.

As part of those efforts, prosecutors allege that Trump and co-conspirators organized fraudulent slates of electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

The indictment notes that some fraudulent electors were tricked into participating with the understanding that their votes would be used only if Trump won lawsuits to overturn the election results in their states.

Others, such as 16 Republicans charged in Michigan with forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgeries, falsely asserted they were legitimate electors despite Biden’s victory in the state.

The caveat that the Pennsylvania electoral votes for Trump would be used only if Biden’s win was overturned by a court kept the fraudulent electors from crossing the line into criminality, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said last year. 

Shapiro, then the state attorney general, said that while their actions were purposefully misleading and damaging to democracy, his office determined they did not meet the legal standard for forgery.

DeMarco, who is chairperson of the Allegheny County Republican Committee and seeking reelection to county council, said the event Thursday in Bethel Park is a fundraiser for local get-out-the-vote efforts where many county Republican candidates are invited to speak. The event is closed to reporters, the Bethel Park Republican Committee said in an email.

McCormick started the PAC that DeMarco chairs to support other Republican candidates. In its most recent filing with the Pennsylvania Department of State, it reported just more than $1 million in donations with the vast majority from Republican mega-donor Jeff Yass. 

Millersville University political science professor G. Terry Madonna said that with control of the Senate in play next year, Pennsylvania’s race will be closely watched nationally. Candidates’ actions and associations will be scrupulously scrutinized by their opponents. 

If Casey faces McCormick in the general election, Casey’s campaign is likely to raise McCormick’s link to DeMarco and the fraudulent elector scheme, Madonna said.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party said McCormick needs to say whether he supports Trump.

“Mega-millionaire David McCormick is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Pennsylvanians,” Maddy McDaniel, senior communications adviser at the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said in a statement. 

“After groveling for Donald Trump’s endorsement last year, now McCormick is refusing to say whether he’d endorse Trump after the former president has been indicted for trying to overthrow our democracy. It’s time for McCormick to stop hiding,” McDaniel’s statement read.

And the fact that DeMarco and the other fraudulent electors were absolved of criminal liability may not offer much cover for McCormick, Muhlenberg College pollster Christopher Borick said.

“They pushed the envelope pretty far in terms of an attempt to overturn the results of a free-and-fair election,” Borick said.

DeMarco’s role as chairperson of McCormick’s Pennsylvania Rising PAC indicates he’s engaged with McCormick’s political efforts.

“It’s someone who is harder to brush off,” Borick said.



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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.