Wall Street executives are investing millions of dollars in the Republican primary for an open seat in the U.S. Senate – led by veteran Dr. Mehmet Oz and former Bridgewater CEO Dave McCormick – making the primaries one of the most expensive in the midterm election. elections.
During the first quarter, dozens of associates and close friends – current and former CEOs and Wall Street executives – raised funds, donated to their campaigns and donated directly to candidates and political action committees supporting their applications, according to the Federal Elections. Commission reports, invitations to private fundraisers and interviews with people close to both men, some of whom were asked not to give names to speak freely.
The race to replace a retired Republican senator, Pete Toomey, is critical, which could help determine the balance of power in the House, which is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Cook’s political report marks a Senate seat as a lottery, and the average of Real Clear Politics polls shows that McCormick has an advantage over the Oz country in primaries over Republicans.
The competition received support from the executives of Goldman Sachs, as well as the heads of billionaires Blackstone Group and Citadel, among others.
More than $ 45 million has been spent on television, radio and digital advertising in the primary republic, according to data provided by AdImpact advertising tracker. Oz, McCormick and Honor Pennsylvania, the super PAC that supports McCormick, spent more than $ 11 million on advertising in the primary race. American Leadership Action, similar to the super PAC that supports Oz, has so far spent just over $ 3 million on advertising at the primaries.
Super PACs are tools for allies that provide external support to federal candidates. Although companies do not control how they spend their money, super PACs can collect and spend an unlimited amount of money to support their chosen candidate.
Both men had incredibly good relationships before coming into politics. Oz, as the host of The Dr. Oz Show, had a long and successful television career, nurtured by Oprah Winfrey, and McCormick managed Bridgewater, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. McCormick’s wife, Dean Powell McCormick, is the head of the Goldman Sachs giant on Wall Street.
With such ties, it was not difficult for any of the candidates to raise money. Oz has so far raised more than $ 13 million, from $ 7.5 million in the first quarter, including nearly $ 6 million in loans from Oz. McCormick, meanwhile, raised $ 11 million in the first quarter, including a loan of just under $ 7 million from the candidate, who officially entered the race in January.
Goldman executives supported McCormick’s campaign, and nearly 60 firm executives donated directly to his operation, FEC records show. Goldman CEO David Solomon held a fundraiser for the candidate in February, while John Rogers, chief of staff and secretary of Goldman’s board of directors, encouraged other Goldman leaders to donate to the company, according to people familiar with the matter.
Solomon personally gave $ 5,800 to McCormick’s company in January. Late last year, Rogers donated $ 50,000 to pro-McCormick Honor Pennsylvania, according to election protocols. Unlike campaign donations, which are limited to $ 5,800 per candidate for the election cycle, donors can give an unlimited amount of super PAC money according to campaign funding rules.
Rogers was also in a group of business leaders in January who jointly organized a fundraiser in New York for McCormick, according to a copy of the invitation.
A Goldman spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Mike Novagratz, CEO of Galaxy Digital and a close friend of both McCormick, told CNBC that he felt support for Wall Street stemmed from what he said was a belief that former Bridgewater CEO’s policies were more “center-right.” Records show that he has not yet donated to McCormick’s company.
“Wall Street is centrist,” Navahrudak said, explaining support.
Wall Street firms typically support candidates on both sides of the aisle. The Goldman Political Action Committee and its staff, for example, donated $ 1 million to Barack Obama’s campaign when he first ran for president in 2008, according to the Center for Responsible Policy. President Joe Biden has seen more than that $ 70 million from Wall Street in its fight for the White House.
McCormick is seen in Washington as a possible ally of business leaders if he wins the November general election.
“Supporting Dave is a simple challenge for many business people,” said Reginald Brown, a partner at law firm Kirkland Ellis. Brown donated $ 5,800 to McCormick’s company in January, FEC documents show. “There is a strong feeling that he will not be a relaxed gun and ready to be a statesman in a very complex world.”
“Dr. Oz is a TV personality who served on the President’s Fitness Council. It’s an easy choice for pragmatic business leaders,” Brown said. Prior to Biden, Oz sat on former President Donald Trump’s Sports, Nutrition and Fitness Council fell him.
Several billionaires from Wall Street seem to agree with McCormick.
Ken Griffin, CEO of Chicago-based investment firm Citadel, donated $ 7.5 million to Super PACs advocating for McCormick, including $ 2.5 million in March.
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwartzman gave the McCormick-backing group $ 500,000 in February, and Paul Singer, founder of hedge fund giant Elliot Management, donated $ 1 million that month.
Nelson Peltz, co-founder of investment firm Trian Partners, contributed $ 80,000 to the super PAC pro-Oz in the first three months of the year. Hedge fund founder billionaire John Paulson donated $ 5,800 directly to Oz.
American Leadership Action, a PAC that supports only Oz, has spent more than $ 3 million to target McCormick, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsible Policy.
Representatives of Schwartzman, Singer, Peltz and Paulson did not respond to requests for comment.
Griffin said he called on McCormick to run.
“When I heard that David was considering running for the Senate, I called on him to do so, because our nation will be in good hands if talented and dedicated people like him are elected to public office,” Griffin said. He pointed to McCormick’s military service in the Gulf War and his experience in government, including positions in the trade and finance ministries under then-President George W. Bush.
Both McCormick and Oz have a close personal relationship with billionaire Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater, who has not donated to any of the companies.
Oz also has friends on Wall Street, and Trump considers him a supporter.
John Mack, former CEO and chairman of Morgan Stanley, contributed $ 600,000 in the first two months of the year to the super PAC, which stands for the country of Oz, according to federal election data. Mack told CNBC he supported Oz for a number of reasons, including his work in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and because Mack said his fighting spirit he would bring to Washington when he became a senator. Mack was known on Wall Street as the “Mack Knife” for his cost-cutting efforts and focus on detailed efficiency at Morgan Stanley.
“He’s fighting for what he believes in,” Mack told CNBC.
While Trump recently backed Oz, some of Trump’s old allies have donated to McCormick’s camp.
McCormick received donations from Ray Washburn, a real estate mogul and former financial chairman of the Republican National Committee; Brian Ballard, a veteran lobbyist and major fundraiser for Trump; and Christine Taretti, head of the oil and gas industry that was part of Trump’s transition team and his candidacy for ambassador to Malta before her candidacy was returned by the Senate.
Washburn is a tough striker on the campaign. He was also part of Trump’s transition team and was one of Bush’s political fundraisers during his campaigns in 2000 and 2004.
Jess Szymanski, McCormick’s spokesman, in a statement sent by email, downplayed McCormick’s ties to Wall Street. She noted that the former CEO of Bridgewater has also raised $ 1 million from Pennsylvania donors in all 67 counties and that he has enough support to win an expensive race.
“Dave McCormick has shown that he is the only one in this race who has the broad support and power to raise the funds needed to lead one of the most expensive and important Senate races in the country and retain a seat in the hands of Republicans,” Szymanski said.
The Oz company took the opportunity to target McCormick.
“David McCormick is the best insider in the establishment. He continues to flounder, despite spending millions on a Chinese-funded defamation campaign,” Oz spokeswoman Brittany Yannick said in an email.