Pennsylvania GOP Senate race between Dr. Oz and hedge fund boss David McCormick is too close to call

Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary was too close to call late Tuesday night, with TV doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund manager David McCormick nearly at an impasse and currently within the 0.5% margin that would trigger the state’s automatic recount rule.

By midnight Tuesday, Oz had reclaimed a lead of a few hundred votes over McCormick, with hardcore MAGA Kathy Barnette about seven points behind in third.

For weeks, Oz and McCormick have been probing neck and neck, despite the boost Oz received from former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. But in the end, Oz had to fend off upstart Barnette, who leveraged her right-wing bona fides to mount a last-minute accusation that siphoned enough skeptical Trump voters away from Oz to play a spoiler role.

Barnette’s surge, in fact, likely kept McCormick in, as conservative voters who would normally be swayed by Trump’s endorsement flocked to his side.

With the race functionally at an impasse as Tuesday turned into Wednesday, McCormick was the first to send his side home.

“Unfortunately, we’re not going to have a resolution tonight,” he told supporters, citing thousands of mail-in ballots that will be counted on Wednesday. Those mail-in ballots were ultimately Trump’s Achilles’ heel in Pennsylvania in the 2020 election, and they could hurt Oz and Trump again, though it was Oz whose election numbers seemed to be heading in the right direction. Still, the hedge fund chief projected confidence, assuring voters that “we can see victory ahead.”

Oz appeared minutes later, praising his political benefactor Trump and acknowledging the race was headed for a recount.

“When all the votes are counted, I’m confident we’ll win,” Oz said. “But when it’s so close, what else would you expect?” »

An Oz victory would be a triumph for Trump, who is now holding his breath after picking up a major victory two weeks earlier with JD Vance’s behind-the-scenes victory in the Ohio Senate primary. But Oz and Vance both suffered from antipathy within the Trump base throughout Election Day, losing much of the MAGA vote despite his endorsement.

Both Oz and McCormick stepped into a MAGA vacuum left after the exit of Trump-backed Sean Parnell, dogged by child support issues and domestic battery allegations. Neither candidate has fully won over this community, although it’s not for lack of trying.

In total, the Oz and McCormick camps spent tens of millions of dollars on attack ads, CNBC reported, some of them misleading, as each worked to prove the other was. the real MAGA fraud – McCormick slaps Oz as a “Hollywood liberal,” and Oz portrays McCormick as a corporate “ally” of China.

Neither focused on Barnette, however, who slipped through the cracks to run into a comfortable third, likely making the difference in the nail-biter.

Yet it is difficult to assess the Trump effect. He was riding high after Ohio, but last week saw a stinging defeat of his anointed gubernatorial candidate in Nebraska, a megadonor whom eight women had accused of sexual assault. And Pennsylvania, where Trumpworld personalities shared their support, doesn’t seem like a resounding referendum either way, no matter who wins in the end.

McCormick, who is married to former Trump deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, didn’t get Trump’s blessing, but he got beefed up by some high-profile figures in Trump’s orbit . Both Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaigned for McCormick, and he won endorsements from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). McCormick had also sweetened his campaign team with Trump whisperers Stephen Miller, Cliff Sims and Hope Hicks, a one-time move that has yet to appeal to the former president. (Miller dropped it when Trump chose Oz.)

While Oz may still withdraw the nomination, the close vote tally shows that Trump’s base is ready to turn their backs on their leader.

To that end, some of Trump’s closest allies surrounded the wagons to fend off Barnette’s surprise push. Republican influencers have warned his candidacy would spell disaster for the GOP in the general election. She also drew bizarre late-game rebukes from Fox News mainstay Sean Hannity and Newsmax’s Greg Kelly, who beat her for Islamophobic remarks, among other things.

Even Trump weighed in, issuing a statement last week that claimed Barnette would lose in the general election because of “many things in his past that haven’t been properly explained or verified.”

Despite these efforts, a sizable portion of the MAGA base — lukewarm about the two main contenders — deprioritized their loyalty to Trump and turned to Barnette, giving him about 25% of the vote.

It’s unclear when a planned recount would end. But the eventual winner will face Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman in the general election for the Senate seat. Fetterman easily won his primary on Tuesday night, and a recount was good news for him, as his ultimate opponent will now spend even more time and money trying to defeat his Republican opponent.

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