Pompeo backs Pennsylvania Republican McCormick in key U.S. Senate race

WASHINGTON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Republican David McCormick won the endorsement on Tuesday of former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his drive to secure his party's nomination for a U.S. Senate seat that could decide control of Congress in November's elections.

McCormick, a former hedge fund chief executive officer who has ties to ex-U.S. President Donald Trump, is among the Republicans vying to replace Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who is retiring.

Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, was CIA director and secretary of state under Trump and is considered a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

The former secretary of state's endorsement was announced in a statement released by the McCormick campaign. McCormick was recently endorsed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders, who is running for governor of Arkansas this year.

"Dave McCormick is a warrior, from the battlefield to the negotiating table, and I've seen his toughness in action since we were together at the United States Military Academy," Pompeo said.

McCormick, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and also served in former President George W. Bush's administration, pledged to fight for tough policies against China if elected.

"Mike understands that China is one of the biggest threats facing the U.S. and the urgent need for Pennsylvania to have a U.S. senator who will stand strong to protect Pennsylvania and America's interests," McCormick said.

McCormick's wife, Dina Powell, served as deputy national security adviser early in the Trump administration.

Republicans in Pennsylvania decided last Saturday not to endorse a primary candidate in the one of the most closely watched U.S. Senate races in the country, amid concerns they could back a candidate in a crowded field who might put them at odds with Trump. https://www.reuters.com/world/us/with-trump-silent-pennsylvania-republicans-decide-against-endorsing-senate-race-2022-02-0 5/

Other Republicans in the race include Carla Sands, Trump's former ambassador to Denmark, and celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who is a friend of the former president.

Trump has not said whether he will back any of the current candidates.

The Pennsylvania Republican primary election is scheduled for May 17.

(This story fixes attribution in paragraph 7 from Pompeo to McCormick)

Reporting by Steve Holland Editing by Paul Simao

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