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

The Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary was too close to call late Tuesday night, as television doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund manager David McCormick were almost in a dead heat and currently sit within the 0.5 percent margin, which would trigger the state’s automatic recount rule.

As of midnight Tuesday, Oz had scraped a lead of just a few hundred votes over McCormick, while die-hard MAGA Kathy Barnette was about seven points behind in third place.

For weeks, Oz and McCormick were neck and neck, despite the boost Oz received from the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. But in the end, Oz had to fend off the upstart Barnette, who used her righteousness to launch a last-minute indictment that stripped enough skeptical Trump voters of Oz to play a spoiler role.

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

With the race all but dead by the time Tuesday turned into Wednesday, McCormick was the first to send his camp home.

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

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

“Once all the votes are tallied, I’m confident we’ll win,” Oz said. “But when it’s that close, what else do you expect?”

An Oz win would be a triumph for Trump, who is now holding his breath after scoring a big win with JD Vance’s come-from-behind win in the Ohio Senate primary two weeks earlier. But both Oz and Vance suffered from antipathy in the Trump base throughout Election Day, losing a large chunk of MAGA votes despite his support.

Oz and McCormick both stepped into a MAGA vacuum left after Trump-backed Sean Parnell’s exit, dogged by child support issues and domestic battery allegations. None of the candidates were able to fully convince this community, although it was not due to a lack of attempts.

Collectively, the Oz and McCormick camps spent tens of millions of dollars on attack advertising, CNBC reported, some of it misleading as each struggled to prove the other was the real MAGA scam — McCormick slammed Oz as a “Hollywood liberal” and Oz paints McCormick as a corporatist “ally” of China.

However, neither focused on Barnette, who slipped through the cracks to run in a comfortable third, which probably made all the difference in the nail biter.

Still, it is difficult to estimate the Trump effect. He was ranked high after Ohio, but last week in Nebraska he suffered a crushing defeat from his anointed gubernatorial nominee — a mega-donor whom eight women had accused of sexual assault. And Pennsylvania, where Trumpworld figures share their support, doesn’t seem like a ringing referendum either way, no matter who ends up victorious.

McCormick, who is married to Trump’s former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, hasn’t won Trump’s blessing, but he’s been ripped off by some top figures in Trump’s perimeter. Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders have both endorsed McCormick, and he has received endorsements from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). McCormick had also sweetened his campaign baton with Trump whisperers Stephen Miller, Cliff Sims and Hope Hicks, a unique move that still didn’t please the former president. (Miller dumped him when Trump voted for Oz.)

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

To that end, some of Trump’s closest allies circled the floats to resist Barnette’s surprise surge. Republican influencers warned that their candidacy would spell doom for the GOP in the general election. She also attracted odd, late reprimands from Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Newsmax’s Greg Kelly, who slammed her for anti-Islamic remarks, among other things.

Even Trump got involved, releasing a statement last week claiming Barnette would lose in the general election because “many things about her past have not been properly explained or verified.”

Despite those efforts, a significant segment of MAGA’s base — lukewarm about the top two contenders — has belittled its allegiance to Trump and turned to Barnette, earning her about 25 percent of the vote.

It’s unclear when an expected recount will be completed. But the ultimate winner will be up against Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman for the Senate seat in the general election. Fetterman won his primary easily Tuesday night, and a recount was welcome news for him as his ultimate opponent will now spend even more time and money beating his Republican opponent. Pennsylvania GOP Senate race between Dr. Oz and hedge fund boss David McCormick too close


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