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Senate Republicans keep recruiting rich men from out of state

Top GOP Senate candidates and potential recruits may not even live in the state in which they’re seeking office.

By Josh Israel - August 15, 2023
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David McCormick, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks during a campaign stop in Lititz, Pa., on May 13, 2022.
David McCormick, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks during a campaign stop in Lititz, Pa., on May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Wealthy hedge fund executive Dave McCormick differentiated himself from his former Pennsylvania Senate primary opponent, New Jersey resident Mehmet Oz, by touting his strong ties to the Keystone State. But on Monday, the Associated Press reported McCormick actually still lives in Connecticut.

National Republicans reportedly have been trying to convince the failed 2022 Senate candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey in 2024 and he has indicated he is considering a race. 

Politico reported in March that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is attempting to find candidates for 2024 who can afford to self-fund all or some of their campaigns. After being outraised by Democrats in the 2020 and 2022 Senate campaigns, NRSC Chair Steve Daines acknowledged that it was helpful to find candidates who can provide their own funds, telling the outlet, “We’ve got some work to do to catch up.”

But most of the wealthy candidates Daines, a U.S. senator from Montana, and his team have been recruiting are like McCormick: conservative male business executives who are recent transplants or may not even live in the state in which they’re seeking office.

In the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate primary, Democrats accused both McCormick and eventual nominee Mehmet Oz as not really being Pennsylvania residents.

In a March 2023 interview with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, first flagged by the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, McCormick suggested that Oz lost to Democratic nominee John Fetterman in part over the issue: “That explains a lot, I think, because people wanna know that the person that they’re voting for kind of gets it, and part of getting it is understanding that you just didn’t come in yesterday.” (Disclosure: The American Independent Foundation is a partner organization of American Bridge.)

The AP report noted that McCormick listed his Westport, Connecticut, mansion in public documents as his primary residence and has done remote interviews from the property as recently as this spring. McCormick has said he is considering a challenge to Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Casey.

In Wisconsin, as prominent elected officials declined the chance to challenge Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2024, national Republicans are reportedly eying wealthy real estate developer and banker Eric Hovde. Hovde reportedly owns a multimillion dollar home in Laguna Beach, California in addition to his Madison, Wisconsin home. He lost a bid for Senate in 2012.

In May, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Hovde spends a significant amount of time in California and was named one of Orange County, California’s top 500 most influential people by the Orange County Business Journal in 2020.

“We hope California Hovde had a safe trip to La Crosse from his Laguna Beach mansion. As Republicans continue to scramble to find a candidate for U.S. Senate, California Hovde is back once again to pitch his extreme and out of touch policies in Wisconsin,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Rapid Response Director Arik Wolk quipped in a June press release.

Daines has also urged New York Stock Exchange vice chair John Tuttle to run for retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s open seat in Michigan next year. As of last September, Tuttle listed a New York City address as his home when making a campaign donation.

Former Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers, who moved to Florida to run a consulting business and reportedly registered to vote there in 2022, is also reportedly considering a run in his former state.

In Nevada, the NRSC recruited business owner Sam Brown to challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen. Prior to moving to Nevada, he unsuccessfully ran in the 2014 Republican primary for a seat in the Texas Legislature.

Brown will face another wealthy newcomer in the GOP primary. President Donald Trump’s controversial former ambassador to Iceland, Jeffrey Ross Gunter, announced on Aug. 7 that he will also run for the Nevada Senate seat. The GOP mega donor told the Nevada Globe two days earlier that he has been a full-time Nevada resident for four years, though the Daily Beast noted in June that he has been registered to vote in the state only since 2021.

The U.S. Constitution requires that every senator “be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen” as of Election Day, but it does not specify what that means.

On Aug. 10, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler noted that Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville appears to reside primarily in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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