Pennsylvania Republican Senate Primary Likely Headed to a Recount

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for a vacant US Senate seat is for 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.

The race is close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s auto-recount law, with the candidates split within the 0.5% margin of the law. The Associated Press will not declare a winner in the race until the tally is complete.

THIS IS A LAST MINUTE UPDATE. The previous AP story follows below.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Nearly even Friday, celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick began staffing their campaigns with recount specialists when the count of votes entered the fourth day of the Pennsylvania Republican primary for a vacancy in the US Senate.

Both campaigns hired Washington-based attorneys to lead their recount efforts, and both hired Philadelphia-based campaign strategists who helped run the operation to observe the counting of votes on Election Day for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. in 2020.

The two campaigns already had dozens of attorneys and volunteers spread out across the presidential battleground state as poll workers and election boards worked through the remaining ballots.

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.

With thousands of ballots to count, Oz, who was endorsed by Trump, led McCormick by 1,092 votes, or 0.08 percentage point, of 1,338,399 ballots counted as of noon Friday. The race remained close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s auto-recount law, with the candidates split within the 0.5% margin of the law.

The close primary for the Republican nomination to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey is expected to be among the best contests in the country in the November general election. The winner of the primary will face Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who won the Democratic nomination just days after suffering a stroke. He has said that doctors expect him to make a full recovery and he remained in the hospital on Friday.

County boards of elections began meeting Friday to resolve problem or provisional ballots, while poll workers reviewed thousands of pending mail-in ballots. In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, that included some unaccounted Election Day precinct counts.

The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, said nearly 28,000 mail-in and absentee votes remained to be counted, 8,300 in the Republican primary, based on information it had from counties as of noon Friday.

Even before a recount begins, there could be a series of lawsuits challenging certain counties’ decisions on whether to count ballots that may be difficult to read or have some type of irregularity.

So far, neither campaign has gone to court and both candidates have expressed confidence that they will win.

A recount could change the initial result: A recount of a state court race last November ended up increasing the winner’s margin by more than 5,500 votes in a race in which more than 2 million votes were cast.

Statewide, McCormick fared better than Oz among mail-in ballots, while Oz fared better among votes cast on Election Day. Counties must also count provisional, overseas, and military absentee ballots before certifying their results to the state by the 5:00 p.m. deadline next Tuesday.

Republican turnout topped 38%, the highest midterm primary in at least two decades, fueled by more than $70 million in advertising and other spending on the Republican Senate campaign.

Oz was aided by Trump’s endorsement, while a McCormick-backing super PAC weighed in heavily, spending around $20 million, much of it to attack Oz.

Both men also spent millions of their own dollars on the campaign trail and battled accusations of being rug hoarders: Oz moved out of a northern New Jersey mansion overlooking Manhattan to run, while McCormick moved out of the lavish Connecticut Gold Coast.

Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/timelywriter.

This story has been corrected to show that more than 2 million votes were cast in the November court race, not 5.1 million votes.

Follow the AP for full coverage of the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap_politics.

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