Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Senate primary could be one of the most expensive races of the 2022 election cycle, as candidates and political action committees spend more than $55 million on television and radio advertising. according to ad tracker Medium Buying.
Data shows that the campaigns of former Bridgewater Associates CEO Dave McCormick and veteran physician Dr. Mehmet Oz have collectively spent more than $20 million on attack ads and other advertising. Honor Pennsylvania, a Super PAC supporting McCormick, has spent just over $17 million on its nominee, while the Pro-Oz American Leadership Action PAC has poured over $3 million into the race. Oz, McCormick and their allied super PACs have collectively raised over $50 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Super PACs can accept and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or spend an individual candidate as long as the funds are not directly controlled by the candidate.
dr Mehmet Oz attends the 2022 Champions of Jewish Values Gala at Carnegie Hall on January 20, 2022 in New York City.
Alexi Rosenfeld Getty Images
Some of Wall Street’s billionaires have donated big bucks to support either McCormick or Oz, including Ken Griffin, the CEO of Chicago-based investment firm Citadel, and Nelson Peltz, co-founder of investment firm Trian Partners.
McCormick and Oz representatives did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication.
Despite all the money, Kathy Barnette, a conservative political commentator running for the same Senate seat, has risen sharply in recent polls, nearly catching Oz and McCormick. All three are among candidates vying for the vacant Pennsylvania Senate seat being vacated by outgoing Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
A Fox News poll of Pennsylvania Republican primary voters conducted May 3-7 shows Barnette with a 19% approval rating, just three points behind Oz, who leads that poll with 22% support. Her campaign has raised over $1.7 million, including over $180,000 in April, mostly from small donors, records show. The campaign spent over $197,000 on ads throughout the election. according to to AdImpact, which also tracks campaign spend.
This rise in Barnette has led to outside groups supporting Oz and McCormick run Anti-Barnette spots in the final days of the election, Medium Buying said.
The ad run in the final weeks of the election was funded in part by a variety of business leaders and stakeholders.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick speaks at a campaign event at Leddy’s Pub May 12, 2022 in Harleysville, Pennsylvania.
Michael M Santiago | Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, donated $200,000 to pro-McCormick group Honor Pennsylvania in April, according to FEC records. After raising over $2.8 million that month, the organization went on the air to target Barnette. A News Corp representative did not respond to requests for comment.
News Corp owns newspapers around the world, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. Murdoch is also chairman of Fox Corp., Fox News’ controlling company. Sean Hannity, a network anchor and Trump ally, supports Oz’s candidacy. Conservative network colleague Laura Ingraham called Trump’s endorsement of Oz a “mistake”.
Oz’s campaign last month saw a $5,800 donation from Julia Koch, widow of the late billionaire David Koch. Julia Koch’s website says she is on the board of directors of the giant conglomerate Koch Industries, a company her husband ran with his brother Charles Koch. Julia Koch declined to comment, but a person familiar with the post said it was related to her longtime friendship with Oz and his wife Lisa.
McCormick’s campaign, meanwhile, saw donations from other Wall Street titans in the final weeks of the election, including $5,800 from Howard Lutnick, chairman and CEO of financial consulting firm Cantor Fitzgerald, and $2,900 from Marc Rowan, CEO of the Investment firm Apollo Global.
Rowan and Lutnick representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Rupert Murdoch’s name.