HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Heart surgeon-turned-TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick entered essentially a tie in Pennsylvania’s hotly contested Republican nomination for an open Senate seat on Wednesday. American, which should be among the best in the country. the most competitive races in the fall.
The contest was a few thousand votes away overnight, out of more than 1.2 million votes. Trailing in a distant third place in the GOP’s seven-person primary field was conservative activist Kathy Barnette.
The Associated Press did not call the race. Some counties had not yet compiled all of their mail-in ballots and the counting of provisional, foreign and military mail-in ballots could last all week.
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There is no runoff law in Pennsylvania. But the race was close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the split between Oz and McCormick inside the 0.5% margin triggering an order from the state’s top election official.
Oz and McCormick appeared on their election nights after midnight to say they would have to wait until counting resumed on Wednesday to determine a winner, with each saying they were confident of victory. Either candidate is not expected to make a public appearance, although former President Donald Trump encouraged Oz to preemptively declare victory. Oz made no suggestion that he would.
State Lt. Governor John Fetterman won the Democratic nomination hours after undergoing surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to help him recover from a stroke he suffered on Friday.
Democrats view the race to replace retired Republican Senator Pat Toomey as perhaps their best opportunity to land a seat in the tightly divided 100-seat Senate.
The Republican turnout topped 37%, the highest midterm primary turnout in at least two decades, fueled by more than $70 million in spending for the GOP primary alone.
Oz was helped by a Trump endorsement, while a McCormick-backing super PAC weighed heavily in the race, spending around $20 million, much of it attacking Oz.
Both men also spent millions on the campaign and fought accusations of being rug baggers – Oz left a New Jersey mansion overlooking Manhattan to run, and McCormick left the luxurious Gold Coast of the Connecticut.
Oz, best known as host of the daytime TV show “The Dr. Oz Show,” has battled apprehensions from conservative groups about his stances on guns, abortion and other core conservative issues. . Oz countered that Trump’s endorsement guaranteed he was a conservative.
Oz has also been repeatedly attacked for his dual citizenship in Turkey, and he accused McCormick of making “sectarian attacks”. If elected, Oz would be the country’s first Muslim senator, although he has not campaigned at this stage. Oz, who was born in the United States, said he would give up his dual citizenship in Turkey if elected.
McCormick is a decorated veteran of the United States Army who has close ties to the party establishment since his service in the administration of President George W. Bush.
However, McCormick has spent much of the campaign fending off accusations from rivals that he is soft on China after quitting a hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, which does considerable business in China with the blessing of the local government.
Trump had attacked McCormick several times in the final two weeks of the race, calling him a liberal, sold out to China and a member of a corrosive Washington establishment that is not ‘America first’ , Trump’s label for his philosophy of government.
Nonetheless, McCormick had insisted he was the most “America First” candidate in the race and closed it by airing a TV ad showing a video clip of Trump at a private 2020 ceremony congratulating McCormick, saying “you have served our country well in so many different ways.
Oz and McCormick had avoided repeating Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that Democrats robbed him of the 2020 presidential election in the battleground state. But they failed to repeat Republican complaints about decisions by state judges and election officials on how to administer the election.