On the same day Pennsylvania counties can begin recounting ballots in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, on May 27 Dr. Mehmet Oz released a video declaring himself “the presumptive Republican nominee.”
“I am blessed to have earned the presumptive Republican nomination for the United States Senate,” Oz said in the video. “This was a tough campaign, I traveled everywhere. You guys were pretty honest sharing with me thoughts, worries you had; you don’t feel like you’re being heard.”
To accompany the video, Oz wrote on Twitter, “It’s time to unite. I want to hear your ideas and make this country’s future as bright as it has ever been. With more freedom, less big government, and by empowering our people, America’s light will shine brighter than ever.”
For weeks, polls showed that the May 17 primary was too close to call. Results illustrated that those surveys were accurate.
As of midday on May 27, Oz had 419,587 votes (31.20 percent) compared with 418,675 (31.13 percent) for David McCormick, according to Decision Desk HQ. That is a difference of 912 votes out of 1,344,882 ballots cast.
Under Pennsylvania law, an automatic recount is triggered when the two leading candidates have a separation within one-half of 1 percent. McCormick had the option to forego a recount, but he chose to move forward with the procedure.
In a press conference on May 25, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said, “Mr. McCormick has not waived his right to a recount. So, as acting secretary of state, I’m required by the election code to order all county boards of elections to conduct a recount of the race.”
Each county can start recounting votes on May 27. They must begin by June 1, finish by noon on June 7, and submit their results by noon on June 8.
County boards of elections must tabulate the ballots using a different device than the one initially, or ballots can be counted by hand, according to the state’s recount process.
Chapman also ordered all counties to separate and tabulate ballots without dates and with incorrect dates.
A federal appeals court decision on May 20 ruled that federal law requires Lehigh County to count 257 mail-in ballots that weren’t counted in the 2021 election because there were no dates on the return envelopes.
McCormick’s campaign called each county board of elections and urged them to count those ballots, and McCormick filed a lawsuit to make that a requirement. Oz opposed the move, as did the Republican National Committee.
“Our position is that undated and incorrectly dated ballots should count,” Chapman said, referencing the court decision. “To be clear, our guidance will enable counties to arrive at an accurate count no matter what the courts decide.”
Oz was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in mid-April. A day after the May 17 primary, the former president posted on his platform, Truth Social, urging Oz to declare victory.
“It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that ‘they just happened to find,'” Trump said.
Oz or McCormick will face Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the general election. Fetterman suffered a stroke a few days before the primary and cast his vote from a hospital on election day before undergoing a successful procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator.
On May 26, Pennsylvania’s deputy secretary of elections and commissions Jonathan Marks told the media that an estimated 10,000 ballots have not been counted. This figure includes about 6,000 mail-in and absentee ballots. Among that number are as many as 3,000 overseas or military ballots and 4,000 provisional ballots.
It is uncertain how many of those ballots were cast in the Republican primary.
Since the evening of May 17, both candidates have expressed confidence that they will emerge as the victor.
“This narrow difference triggers an automatic recount, and we look forward to a swift resolution so our party can unite to defeat socialist John Fetterman in the fall,” McCormick said in a statement earlier this week, adding that he has performed well among voters who cast mail-in ballots.
The winner in November will replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Since the Senate is currently composed of 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats or nominal independents, every seat is crucial in November because Vice President Kamala Harris casts tiebreaking votes as president of the chamber.
Out of 34 Senate seats up for election, 14 are held by Democrats and 20 by Republicans.