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, which was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, edged out 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 attorneys 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.
Both campaigns already had dozens of lawyers and volunteers deployed around the presidential battleground state as election workers and election commissions worked through the remaining ballots.
The large group of Republican candidates and their super PACs reported spending more than $70 million during the primary campaign. The winner will face Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman in November’s midterm elections in what Democrats see as their best chance to land a seat in the tightly divided Senate.
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 .
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 losing candidates request in writing that it not be carried out.
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.
Oz and McCormick dominated the seven-person GOP field, blanketing state TV screens with political ads for months and spending millions of their own money, before conservative activist Kathy Barnette surged. in the final days of the campaign.
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 daytime television show “The Dr. Oz Show,” had to overcome apprehensions from hardline 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.
Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/timelywriter.
This story has been corrected to show that more than 2 million ballots were cast in the November court contest, not 5.1 million ballots.
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