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EXCLUSIVE – Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas will team Thursday and Friday with Dave McCormick, one of the frontrunners in the crowded, explosive and expensive GOP Pennsylvania Senate primary.
News that Cruz, the conservative Texas firebrand who backed McCormick shortly after declaring his candidacy in January, was heading to Pennsylvania was first shared with Fox News Digital on Sunday.
The race to succeed retired GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in the crucial battleground state is one of the few contests across the country that could decide whether Republicans win back a majority in the Senate in the mid-term election. November term.
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Cruz’s two-day campaign with McCormick will come just before the May 17 primary in Pennsylvania, and it also comes less than a week after former President Donald Trump headlined a rally in western Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania with McCormick’s rival for the nomination, Mehmet Oz, whom Trump endorsed just weeks ago.
“My friend Mehmet Oz, he’s a great man,” Trump said Friday night introducing the celebrity heart surgeon, author and physician who, until his Senate campaign launch late last year, was TV show host. Dr. Oz show.”
But Trump’s endorsement of Oz, whose conservative credentials have been questioned, has angered some on the right, and the former president’s introduction of Oz at Friday night’s rally was welcomed. by a handful of boos.
McCormick and Oz, who traded fire for four months, have close ties to the former president, Trump’s former top White House official and presidential campaign officials endorsing or serving as advisers to the two candidates. And both suitors worked hard to get Trump’s endorsement.
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Trump repeatedly took aim at McCormick at the rally, ripping him off as not being “MAGA” enough.
The latest public opinion poll in the race indicates Oz has a leg up on McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, West Point grad, Gulf War veteran and Treasury Department official in the administration of former President George W. Bush, and veteran and conservative. political commentator Kathy Barnette.
Fifteen months away from the White House, Trump remains the most influential and popular politician in the Republican Party, as he continues to play the role of kingmaker in the party’s primaries and repeatedly flirts with a another presidential race in 2024. And Trump’s recent endorsement of JD Vance in neighboring Ohio, which was home to another jam-packed and combative GOP Senate primary, was instrumental in helping the former hedge fund executive and author success in emerging as the winner of Tuesday’s Buckeye State primary.
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Vance’s win also reconfirmed Trump’s continued influence within the GOP, and the former president was quick to tout his prowess. But Trump’s influence faces many tough tests ahead as other top Trump-backed candidates — he’s made dozens and dozens of endorsements this cycle throughout the ballot — face difficult primaries.
Cruz — who was Trump’s runner-up in the 2016 Republican presidential nomination race and who is also seriously considering another run for the White House in 2024 — has supported and campaigned for the former Ohio Treasurer and three-time Senate candidate Josh Mandel, who came second to Vance in the primary.
And in Pennsylvania, Cruz isn’t the only potential White House hopeful in 2024 to back McCormick.
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The same goes for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman who served as CIA director and top US diplomat during the Trump administration. Pompeo graduated from the US Military Academy a year before McCormick. And he joined McCormick on the campaign trail late last month.
Hours before Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania, Pompeo – in a call hosted by McCormick’s campaign – raised questions about Oz’s ties to Turkey.
It’s not just Cruz and Pompeo.
Trump and his former vice president — Mike Pence — appear to be on opposing sides in Georgia’s bitter GOP governors’ clash between conservative incumbent Governor Brian Kemp and his challenger and former Sen. David Perdue.
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Kemp, a former ally, drew Trump’s ire from late 2020 after the governor certified current President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election after multiple vote recounts. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican state officials to overturn the results, has now returned to Georgia twice to campaign against Kemp. For months, Trump has urged Perdue to challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his candidacy.
Pence’s political team has helped Kemp’s campaign and last week longtime Pence adviser Marc Short joined Kemp’s campaign as a senior adviser. And former two-term New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a 2016 GOP presidential nominee who has publicly said he’s considering another run for the White House in 2024, is also backing Kemp.
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Trump and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, another potential 2024 candidate, are facing each other in a GOP congressional primary in her home state. Haley, who served as an ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, is backing Rep. Nancy Mace in the Republican primary for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, while the former president backs challenger Katie Arrington. Haley headlined a fundraiser for Mace and is currently starring in the MP’s latest ad campaign.
And in Nebraska, Republican term-limited Governor Pete Ricketts, who some see as a possible White House hopeful, has endorsed Jim Pillen, a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, as his successor, with Trump backing the GOP businessman Charles Herbster, who is currently facing multiple allegations. of sexual misconduct ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
While Trump remains the most powerful figure in the Republican Party, that doesn’t stop other potential 2024 candidates from making their own choices by endorsing or continuing to support rivals to those backed by the former president.
“There’s no question that a Trump endorsement is helpful in a Republican primary, but we find that it doesn’t always clear the field or secure victory,” said longtime Republican consultant Ryan Williams. , to Fox News.
Williams, a veteran of many GOP presidential campaigns, noted that “it gives other potential 2024 candidates license to come out and endorse whoever they want.”
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Intra-party showdowns between Trump and other potential 2024 presidential candidates can be like appetizers for things to come once the midterms are over and the contest for the next White House heats up.
“People remember who supported them in tough fights,” Ryan noted.
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