March 30, 2022, By Ashley Oliver

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) weighed in on the U.S. Senate primary race in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, declaring her endorsement for Republican businessman David McCormick, one of the race’s frontrunning candidates.

Stefanik, the House GOP Conference chair, said in a statement to Breitbart News she is “proud” to back McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO and Army veteran running in a packed primary field in a race less than two months away.

“Dave McCormick served our country on the frontlines of the Gulf War, and I know he will continue to honorably serve the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our great nation, which is why I’m proud to endorse him for U.S. Senate,” Stefanik said.

McCormick, a Pennsylvania native whogrew upin Bloomsburg, graduated from West Point before serving as an Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq during the Gulf War.

His lengthy resume also includes receiving a PhD from Princeton, working in the Treasury Department under former President George W. Bush, and serving as president and later CEO of Bridgewater Associates, whichForbesbillsas the largest hedge fund in the world.

Stefanik praised McCormick’s business background, saying, “Dave’s battle-tested experience, including serving in the military, negotiating tough trade deals at the highest levels of government, and creating thousands of jobs running two successful businesses, makes him the best candidate to bring back pro-growth, America First policies and conservative principles to the Senate.”

Stefanik, whose conference chair position makes her the third-ranking Republican in the House, has been aggressively focused on promoting Republican women in Congress through her committee E-PAC. But the congresswoman has also backed other candidates, including Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), a Trump-backed Senate hopeful in North Carolina; Joe Pinion, who is challenging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in her home state; as well as multiple others outside of her core E-PAC group.

“I look forward to joining the momentum behind Team McCormick and being a part of the strong, conservative Women for McCormick coalition,” Stefanik stated.

McCormick expressed his gratitude in a response statement to Breitbart News, saying he was “grateful to have such an exceptional team of strong and conservative women supporting my campaign, including the endorsement of Representative Elise Stefanik.” He added that Stefanik “is one of the leading conservative voices in the U.S. Congress” and that he was “honored” to receive her support.

“If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will be a steadfast voice alongside Elise to restore President Trump’s America First policies to fix our economy, establish energy dominance, secure our border and restore America’s strength on the world stage,” McCormick said.

McCormick, who has led several recent polls in the Republican primary contest, is seeing his greatest competition in Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity surgeon who launched his campaign in November with a message focused largely on health care and criticisms of the government’s handling of coronavirus.

Oz has the benefit of name recognition from his years hosting theDr. Oz Show.The TV star also boasts a prominent endorsement from Sean Hannity and isrumoredto appeal to first lady Melania Trump. But Oz’s background has been scrutinized amid his bid for office, and unearthed views that run counter to conservativism threaten his campaign. Oz, for instance, has a history ofadvocatingfor gun restrictions and wasfoundto have ownership in a company fined for employing illegal aliens.

Oz’s candidacy has alsobroughtto light questions about his deep roots in Turkey. Oz has dual-citizenship in Turkey and the U.S. and once served as a medical aid in the Turkish military. While Oz hassaidhe maintains his citizenship in Turkey to be able to more easily visit his ailing mother, his critics have called his allegiances into question given the unprecedented nature of serving in Congress while being a citizen elsewhere. Oz has responded by saying he would renounce his Turkish citizenship but says he will only do so if he is elected to Congress. A recent Washington Free Beacon poll reinforced the citizenship concerns,findingthat a majority, or 66 percent, of poll respondents were “critical of Oz’s close ties to Turkey.”

In addition to Oz, also in the mix of primary candidates are military veteran Kathy Barnette, real estate developer Jeff Bartos, and former Trump Administration Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands. The latest poll, taken by Fox News,showedall three in the single digits behind McCormick and Oz, although a plurality of respondents in that poll, or 31 percent, said they were still undecided on a candidate.

While former President Donald Trump has been relatively quiet on the race so far, big-name endorsements like the one that just came from Stefanik have game-changing potential in the Keystone State, a populous battleground where the Republican Senate candidate is likely to face either the Democrats’ current frontrunning candidate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, or Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), who has been trailing Fetterman in polls.

The two Republican frontrunners, Oz and McCormick, will face each other for the first time in a Senate candidate forumhostedby the Manufacturer & Business Association Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. Bartos and Barnette are also expected to participate in the forum.

The primary will take place May 17.

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