Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 6

In this issue: Millions spent on Senate primary ads in PA so far and VA-07 to hold primary instead of convention

McCormick enters Senate primary in PA, candidates and satellite groups spend millions on ads

David McCormick, a former George W. Bush administration treasury official and hedge fund CEO, officially entered Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race on Jan. 13. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Julian Routh, McCormick “has the support of various state party stalwarts and veterans of [former President Donald Trump]’s administration advising his campaign.”  

Sean Parnell, who withdrew from the race in November, endorsed McCormick. Parnell said, “I have been watching and hoping a candidate would emerge—someone who could give me total confidence that they will fight for Pennsylvanians and never back down to the Woke mob, but that just hasn’t happened, until now.” Trump endorsed Parnell in September.

American Leadership Action, a super PAC supporting Mehmet Oz’s campaign, spent around $550,000 on ads against McCormick in the week following his announcement. The super PAC Honor Pennsylvania, which supports McCormick, is spending more than $900,000 on an ad against Oz. The super PAC Jobs For Our Future is spending $2 million on an ad opposing McCormick and Oz and supporting Jeff Bartos.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari, Oz will spend close to $5 million on ads running through February, McCormick has spent $3 million, and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands has spent $2 million. 

Tamari wrote, “The blasts of cash — four months before the primary — show the impact of the Republican candidates’ immense personal wealth, and signal an extraordinarily expensive and drawn-out campaign, one that could saturate (and maybe overwhelm) viewers with competing information. It could also potentially squeeze candidates in both parties with less to spend. In a state as large as Pennsylvania, covered by more than a half-dozen media markets, television advertising is crucial for reaching a mass of voters, though it isn’t always decisive.”  

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not running for re-election. The filing deadline is March 8 and the primary is scheduled for May 17.

VA-07 to hold GOP primary instead of convention

Earlier this month, the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee voted to hold a primary election instead of a convention to select the party’s nominee for the general election. Seventh District Republicans used nominating conventions in recent elections.

FiveThirtyEight says the redrawn 7th leans Democratic (D+2), a change from a Republican lean (R+5) before redistricting. Abigail Spanberger (D) represents the 7th and is running for re-election in the new 7th. Spanberger defeated incumbent David Brat (R) in 2018. Brat upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the last Republican primary the district held in 2014.

At least 11 candidates are running in the GOP primary so far, including state Del. John McGuire, state Sen. Bryce Reeves, and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega.

Club for Growth shifts opposition focus in Ohio U.S. Senate primary

Club for Growth, which describes itself as the “leading free-enterprise advocacy group in the nation,” has a new focus in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio—former state Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken. The group said it plans to spend $750,000 on TV and digital ads opposing Timken into the second week of February. Club for Growth endorsed state Treasurer Josh Mandel last March. 

In October, Club for Growth Action spent nearly $500,000 on TV and radio ads criticizing J.D. Vance, one of 14 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. Club for Growth released a poll it commissioned in early January that showed Vance in fourth place with 10% behind Mike Gibbons (14%), Timken (15%), and Josh Mandel (26%). A poll the group commissioned last July had shown Vance in second with 12% behind Mandel (40%). Both polls had margins of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

A Trafalgar Group poll from December showed Mandel with 21%, Vance with 15%, Gibbons with 12%, and Timken with 10%. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

The primary is scheduled for May 3. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) isn’t seeking re-election.

In other Club for Growth news, their PAC endorsed Rep. Mary Miller’s (R-Ill.) re-election campaign on Jan. 18. Miller will face Rep. Rodney Davis (R) in Illinois’ 15th Congressional District. Miller represents the 15th District under the old congressional map, and part of that district is in the new 15th. Illinois’ new map placed Miller’s Oakland residence in the new 12th District. 

Aurora mayor joins Illinois gubernatorial primary

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announced he’s running in the June 28 Republican gubernatorial primary. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a network of consultants with connections to former Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) and former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) recruited Irvin to run. Incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) defeated Rauner 55% to 39% in 2018.

Lynn Sweet wrote, “Irvin’s viability hinges on getting the support of billionaire Ken Griffin, and Irvin’s team has signaled that may be in the works.” Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, gave $54 million to defeat a graduated income tax ballot measure in 2020 that Pritzker supported with $58 million. 

Aurora is the second-largest city in Illinois, with an estimated population of 180,542 as of 2020 according to the Census Bureau.

Also running in the Republican primary so far are state Sen. Darren Bailey, Cheryl Erickson, Gary Rabine, Christopher Roper, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, Max Solomon, and Jesse Sullivan.

Highlights from PA’s gubernatorial primary debate

Eight candidates running for the Pennsylvania GOP’s gubernatorial nomination met for a debate sponsored by the Lawrence County GOP on Jan. 12, the second to take place so far this year. The candidates’ priorities for their first weeks in office were among the topics of discussion.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the chairman of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce, said he would remove mandates and lockdowns if any were in effect and ask the legislature to “give us a bill to help our kids. There are so many kids trapped in failing schools. … If there’s a school in Pennsylvania where no one on the school board would send their child, that school oughta close.”

Charlie Gerow, the vice-chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference and CEO of Quantum Communications, said he would repeal Act 77, a law Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed in 2019 that changed several election procedures. Gerow said, “I fought for election integrity, I did it immediately after the 2020 election, and I’ve continued to do it.”

Melissa Hart, a former U.S. representative, said she would “place out there an agenda of making sure number one that our students will be in school, no more instability.”

Bill McSwain, a former U.S. attorney, would repeal Act 77 and said, “I support public education, but school choice means we’re going to support students, and families, and teachers. And we are not going to support the teacher’s unions.”

Jason Richey, a partner at K&L Gates LLP, said, “If we bring ourselves down to zero percent income tax, unleash our manufacturing and energy capabilities, we will make Pennsylvania an economic juggernaut, where our kids and grandkids will stay.”

John Ventre, a former UPS executive, said he would focus on economic growth: “We are rated number 42 in business growth, number 48th in population, the way you fix that is with a very large business tax cut.”

David White, the founder of DWD Mechanical Contractors, said he would remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and, “We have to get back to a program that if you are on unemployment you need to look for a job, you need to be actively seeking a job. We have to stop subsidizing people not to work.”

Dr. Nche Zama, a surgeon and immigrant from Cameroon, said he would “establish a pandemic management and interceptive medicine council like no other state has” within 24 hours of taking office.

The eight candidates who appeared at the Jan. 12 debate are among at least 13 Republicans who have said they’re running for governor. Among the declared candidates who did not attend the debate were former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, state Senate President pro tem Jake Corman, and state Sen. Scott Martin. 

The primary is scheduled for May 17.

N.C. General Assembly passes bill further delaying primaries

On Wednesday, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill moving the primary date from May 17 to June 7 and setting the candidate filing period to run between March 24 and April 1. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said he’d need to see the final version before deciding whether to sign it into law.

The North Carolina Supreme Court initially postponed the primaries from March 8 to May 17 due to lawsuits challenging the new congressional and state legislative maps. The court is set to hear arguments on Feb. 2. 




About the author

Amee LaTour

Amee LaTour is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.