Pa. Senate GOP primary too close to call, recount likely

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for an open seat in the U.S. Senate is too close to be called and is likely heading for a statewide recount to decide the winner of the contest between heart surgeon turned TV celebrity, Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

A recount would mean the outcome of the race may not be known until June 8, the deadline for counties to report their results to the state.

Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, led McCormick by 1,079 votes, or 0.08 percentage points, out of 1,340,248 ballots counted as of 5 p.m. Friday. The race is close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the split between the candidates inside the law’s 0.5% margin. The Associated Press will not declare a winner of the race until the likely recount is complete.

Both campaigns hired Washington-based lawyers to lead their recount efforts, and both hired Philadelphia-based campaign strategists who helped lead the operation to observe the Election Day vote count for the campaign. President Donald Trump in 2020.

The two campaigns combined already had hundreds of lawyers and volunteers deployed around the presidential battleground state as election workers and election commissions worked through the remaining ballots.

McCormick’s lead recount attorney is Chuck Cooper, a seasoned Washington attorney and go-to lawyer for prominent conservative figures. He represented then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and former national security adviser John Bolton in a dispute over the publication of his book. He recently successfully argued a campaign finance case on behalf of Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the United States Supreme Court.

Lead counsel for the Oz recount is Megan Newton, who was general counsel for Jeb Bush’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign and the Republican National Senate Committee, and represented Trump’s campaign and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. in 2012.

The winner will face Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman in The November midterm elections in what Democrats see as their best opportunity to land a narrowly divided Senate seat.

Fetterman won the Democratic nomination while recovering from a stroke in hospital four days before the election. The incumbent, Republican Senator Pat Toomey, is retiring after serving two terms.

Trump’s influence is on the line again, as he seeks a third straight victory in the Senate Republican primaries after ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author JD Vance prevailed in Ohio earlier this month- ci and U.S. Representative Ted Budd easily picked up a victory in North Carolina on Tuesday.

County election commissions began meeting on Friday to sort through problematic or provisional ballots, even as poll workers processed the last of the mail-in ballots and counting ballots on Election Day in precincts. .

A the federal appeals court threw a spanner in the recount On Friday, when he ruled in an unrelated case that absentee ballots without a legally required date on the return envelope could be counted. McCormick’s campaign viewed it as a positive development, as McCormick led Oz in mail-in ballots.

“When every vote cast in this US Senate election is finally counted, Dave McCormick will win,” his campaign said.

The Oz campaign had no comment Friday night.

The state’s 67 counties have until Tuesday’s deadline in state law to certify their results to the state. Then the state’s top election official has until next Thursday to issue a recount order, which is mandatory — unless the losing candidate requests in writing that he not be executed.

McCormick’s campaign said it had no plans to decline a recount. The Oz campaign declined to comment.

Counties have until three weeks after the election — June 7 — to complete the recount and another day to report the results to the state.

The initial result could change: A recount of a statewide court race last November ended up increasing the winning margin by more than 5,500 votes in a race where more than 2 million ballots were cast. have been filed.

Before that, there could be a flurry of lawsuits challenging decisions by some counties on whether to count ballots that may be difficult to read or have some sort of irregularity.

So far, neither campaign has made it to court and both candidates have expressed confidence in victory.

The large group of Republican candidates and their super PACs reported spending more than $70 million during the primary campaign.

Oz and McCormick dominated the seven-person GOP field, blanketing state television screens with political ads for months and splashing out millions of their own money, before Conservative activist Kathy Barnette surged in the final days of campaigning.

The feisty and hard-nosed pro-Trump alternative cast both Oz and McCormick as “globalists,” pro-Trump suitors, baggage handlers and too rich to help ordinary people. She finished a distant third.

Oz, who is best known as the host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” had to overcome apprehensions from extremist Trump supporters about his conservative credentials. Rivals also accused his dual citizenship with Turkey of compromising his loyalty to the United States. If elected, Oz would be the country’s first Muslim senator.

McCormick was virtually unknown four months ago and highlighted his credentials as a hometown success story.

He not only had to overcome Trump’s endorsement of Oz, but Trump also viciously and repeatedly attacked McCormick in the final two weeks of the race, calling him a Wall Street liberal, sold out to China and of candidate of the “special interests and globalists and the Establishment of Washington.

McCormick got help from a supportive super PAC that spent $20 million, giving him a huge cash advantage, thanks in large part to Wall Street figures who paid for TV ads to attack Oz. .

Both men declared assets of more than $100 million and left the state to flee – Oz from a mansion in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, above the Hudson River overlooking Manhattan, and McCormick from the Gold Connecticut coastal chic.


Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.


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