HARRISBURG, Pa. — Two years out of office, former President Donald Trump is still throwing his political weight around in Pennsylvania, using his endorsements to influence two upcoming elections.
The former president stepped into the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania at a rally in Selma, North Carolina on Saturday. He endorsed television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz for the May 17 primary.
Oz is one of two leading candidates for the Senate seat, along with hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.
Oz’s campaign immediately began flaunting the endorsement. In a statement, they said, “President Trump knows who the real conservative is in the race, and it’s not Pro-Biden, Pro-China David McCormick.”
McCormick, meanwhile, is staying loyal to Trump despite losing his endorsement.
“I know him well and also have been running as someone who’s a big supporter of the president and believes his policy, the America First agenda, are the right policies for the country,” McCormick said on the podcast The Rich Zeoli Show.
While Trump’s support once cemented a Republican candidate, it may now carry less weight. In the same race, Trump previously backed Sean Parnell, an Army veteran who dropped out after allegations of domestic abuse surfaced against his wife.
Even after Oz’s endorsement, McCormick remains slightly ahead in polls.
“Trump is polarizing,” said Sarah Niebler, a political science professor at Dickinson College. “So while there are a lot of Pennsylvania Republicans for whom Trump’s endorsement will make them vote for Dr. Oz, there are certainly some Republicans that will actually vote against Dr. Oz because Trump endorsed him.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has so far declined to endorse anyone to fill his seat, though he said there were several strong candidates.
“Nobody came into the race with such a strong political standing that they were an obvious front runner," Toomey said. "When you have a competitive, multi-candidate race, that’s not that unusual."
Trump also waded into the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race this week.
State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) had already filed paperwork to withdraw from the race when he said a conversation with the former president changed his mind.
His campaign said in a statement, “Two developments today have led me to decide to remain in the race for governor: President Trump’s statement on the race and my conversation directly with the president. He encouraged me to keep fighting, and that’s what I’m going to do—keep fighting for the people of Pennsylvania.”
Trump also launched a surprise attack against another gubernatorial candidate, former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain.