McCormick says he will be term-limited if elected. Will this matter in his U.S. Senate race?

Last week on the campaign trail, Republican U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick promised Lancaster County residents that if elected, he would limit himself to two six-year terms.

“We need to have time limits.” McCormick said applaud on Tuesday while also seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who is seeking a fourth term. “That’s why I’m here today to say that if elected, I will limit myself to two terms.”

“Someone told me, ‘You just get some seniority and then you can make a difference,’” McCormick added. “I said, ‘Oh my God, if you have to go to Washington for 12 years to get seniority and make a difference, the system is screwed up.'”

He reiterated his commitment to respecting term limits in article in Real Clear Pennsylvania on Wednesday, arguing that “The Founders never imagined that Congress would become an institution filled with career politicians well past retirement age.”

McCormick’s pledge is not novel to this office. In October 2017, then-GOP Congressman Lou Barletta he said that if elected to the Senate, he “will serve no more than two terms” and “will support a constitutional amendment imposing term limits.” A year later, Barletta lost to Casey midterm 13 percentage points.

Polls have shown Americans support term limits for Congress, and some political observers say such a promise could pique voter interest at a time when public opinion in Washington’s “institutions” is low, especially if candidates present themselves as different from the status quo.

“I think this might be a smart play for the challengers because it focuses on the fact that their opponent, in this case Bob Casey Jr., has been in office for so long,” Capital-GOP strategist Chris Nichols said. Star. “Three terms statewide as a rank-and-file official here and now ending with three terms in the Senate. So that’s a lot of time.”

“This is a good way to emphasize the slogan ‘It’s time for changes’,” he added.

But Democratic strategist Brit Crampsie, who called McCormick’s promise a “desperate” move, argued that term limits already exist. “It’s called an election,” she said.

“They can’t really agree on any policy,” she said of McCormick’s campaign. “His policy stance looks a little different now than it did two years ago, when he wasn’t able to gain the momentum he needed to even get through the primaries.”

She said she believes the McCormick campaign is “looking for its niche” and “I don’t think it has found it” with the term limits pledge.

“Senator Casey will fight on behalf of Pennsylvania’s working families as long as they trust him to represent them,” Maddy McDaniel, a spokeswoman for Casey’s campaign, said in an email to the Capital-Star. “Meanwhile, David McCormick refuses to answer for his extreme views on abortion, his history of selling American workers and his lies about where he lives and who he is.”

On this issue: Casey and McCormick call their views on abortion ‘extreme’

AND Pew research a report released in September 2023 found that 87% of adults support term limits for members of Congress. The poll showed slightly more Republicans favoring the restriction than Democrats.

Professor of political science Chris Borick, director of Muhlenberg College’s Institute for Public Opinion, told the Capital-Star that “all institutions,” including the president, the courts and Congress, have low levels of acceptance. Filing a statement of support for term limits gives a candidate the opportunity to put some distance between himself and the incumbent and is “a nice political move that doesn’t involve much cost to the candidate.”

McCormick’s campaign confirmed to the Capital-Star that he I would also vote for term limitsif legislation were presented to him on the subject, in addition to limiting the term.

Nicholas said McCormick’s position could be a good way to get independents “resentful of the system” to support his candidacy.

Crampsie suggested that McCormick’s promise indicated trouble for his campaign.

“I think it just reeks of desperation,” she said. “Because he ran away once and lost, now he’s running away again, and now he’s basically telling us, ‘Please let me do this, and then I’ll stop bothering you after two semesters.’

McCormick lost the 2022 Republican primary for U.S. Senate to Mehmet Oz by less than 1,000 votes.

“It really doesn’t give him much confidence in how he thinks his campaign is doing if he’s already going to tell us when he’s going to stop doing this job,” she added.

Borick said there are moments in American politics, like the 1990s with House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Contract for America” ​​and the GOP-led Tea Party wave in the early years of the Obama administration, during which Republican officials articulated the term limits message in their campaign .

I think it just reeks of desperation.

– Democratic strategist Brit Crampsie

Former U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) publicly constrained himself to three terms in the House of Representatives before running for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Although he never formally committed to two terms if elected to the Senate, he told voters it was his “expectation” that he would only serve two terms. He he did not seek re-election for a third term in 2022

“Eighteen years is a long time.” Dad Toomey plans return to private sector; will support Trump in the fight for re-election

Toomey said he believes honoring his initial House commitment to term limits helped him politically. “I think a lot of voters respect that, they’re grateful, and they know a lot of people are not living up to that commitment,” Toomey told the Capital-Star.

There are other examples of members of Congress failing to keep their campaign promise to limit their time in office. In 2002, then-US MP Joe Pitts (South Africa) the supported person waived the pledge he served only five two-year terms in the House in the 1990s. Pitts served for 20 years before retiring in 2016.

In 2022, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) he failed to meet his self-imposed two-term limit in the Senate and ran for a third term. He won re-election over then Democratic lieutenant Mandela Barnes by 1 percentage point later that year.

“You tell voters you’re going to do one thing and then you don’t do it on something as important as asking them to vote, it will undermine your credibility across the spectrum of what your office does,” Crampsie said.

This is not a decisive factor

While tenure is a significant issue in polls, it likely won’t be a deciding factor for voters when choosing which candidate to support.

“It’s certainly not the top question for voters,” Borick said, adding that if voters were given a list of issues, term limits would not be a massive selling point.

“I think voters are really more concerned about wallet issues,” Crampsie said. “And that’s what Bob Casey is talking about.”

“Dave will have a very strong message on how to ensure economic growth and control inflation, and that includes controlling spending,” Toomey told the Capital-Star.

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Crampsie also said that abortion would play a significant role.

“They are concerned about access to abortion,” she said. “And he (McCormick) changed his position on it two or three times, depending on the time of day.”

Trickle-down theory

With less than six months left in the race, both candidates have tried to link the other to the presidential candidates, which could have an impact on their race.

Latest polls published by AARP of Pennsylvania AND Muhlenberg College showed former President Donald Trump with a slight edge over President Joe Biden.

But these polls showed Casey with straightforward handling over McCormick. According to the AARP poll, Casey leads 48% to 44%, but McCormick leads among voters over 50.

Toomey says the polls provide encouraging news for McCormick.

“So it’s amazing that it’s as close as it is,” Toomey told the Capital-Star. “And Bob Casey is at less than 50%, which is a dangerous place for a well-known official.”

“When I look at the polling data, I think it’s very encouraging for Dave McCormick. I wouldn’t expect him to be front and center at this point,” Toomey added, saying he thinks McCormick will fill the name identification gap as the campaign progresses.

However, Casey has a track record of outperforming other Democrats in Pennsylvania, winning by at least 9 percentage points in his three U.S. Senate runs.

Pollsters indicate that the race is tighter this time well-financed McCormick campaign. Cook Political Reporta national ratings site, rates the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania as leaning Democratic.

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