Rumors are surfacing in Pennsylvania that billionaire Ed Stack, the former CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, is weighing a possible Senate run next year to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), according to multiple sources.
Polling being conducted in the Keystone State asking if voters would consider voting for Stack sparked the chatter about him potentially considering a bid for office. The polling comes after Dick’s announced in November 2020 that Stack was stepping down as CEO of the company effective February 1, 2021, and transitioning to executive chairman.
The former CEO, who at one point reportedly tested a third-party presidential run, gained national attention in 2018 for his decision to ban “assault rifles” and “high-capacity magazines” from his stores after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting. Stack, amid a corporate gun control push, later announced his company had destroyed $5 million worth of the unsold merchandise.
Dan Garcia, a member of the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s State Committee, told Breitbart News he received a call May 16 from a Harrisburg phone number polling him about Stack as a potential Senate candidate in the GOP primary.
Garcia said the caller went through usual topics about jobs, immigration, and abortion but said, “It wasn’t until the very end that it turned into how likely, you know, let me talk to you a bit about Ed Stack, former CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
Garcia said the caller ran through hypotheticals about Stack, asking questions such as, “Would you be less likely or more likely to vote for him if you knew” Stack had created jobs, or if he were to have supported Donald Trump, or if he were to have supported Mitt Romney.
“The first half of the questioning, it was not obvious that the call was in support of any one candidate. It just seemed like a generic poll, but then it turned into Ed Stack-specific type of questions, and that’s where I was like, ‘Okay, I think he’s floating a balloon is what it sounds like here,’” Garcia added.
John Brabender, a Republican strategist close to Stack, denied his interest in running. “Look, at Dick’s he’s very happy doing what he’s doing. He’s not retained me or any other consultant. … He is a friend of mine. I talk politics a lot with him. He has a keen interest in politics but not running for office at this point. That’s for sure.”
Brabender also confirmed that he too had heard buzz about the Senate run possibility. “I’ve gotten a couple of these calls already of people saying, ‘Oh, I heard you were dealing with Ed Stack and he’s taking a look at running for office,’ and I’m just telling you, I talk to Ed Stack a lot. … He’s not running for office.” Brabender said he was not aware of any reasons why the polling about Stack was being conducted.
Maudeania Hornik, a member of the Northampton election board, also reported receiving a “push poll” call about Stack with hypothetical questions that began with, “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for him if…”
Hornik said question topics included his gun control stance and an alleged donation he funneled to the unsuccessful New York congressional campaign of his sister Kim Myers, a Democrat. “I think they were just gauging … I think maybe he was just putting feelers out because you know anybody that runs against him is going to destroy him for those kinds of things,” she said.
The Republican Senate primary in the battleground state is already crowded with candidates, including Army veteran Sean Parnell, who narrowly lost his U.S. congressional race last year in his first bid for political office, and real estate developer Jeff Bartos, who previously ran for lieutenant governor.
A former Trump White House official who also confirmed he heard talk about the Stack polling told Breitbart News the former CEO should not run as a Republican if he decides to pursue political office. “Ed Stack isn’t a moderate Republican. He’s a Nancy Pelosi Democrat and if he wants to run for Senate in Pennsylvania, it should be with a D next to his name,” he said.
“Stack proved that he is nothing more than a weak and woke corporate CEO when he folded to the radical left and banned sales of guns at Dick’s Sporting Goods,” the official continued. “The last thing Pennsylvania Republicans want is an anti-gun corporate insider representing them in the United States Senate.”
Dick’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected].