The two front-runners in the neck-and-neck race for the Republican Senate in Pennsylvania said they don’t expect a winner to be announced on election night.
“So we won’t have a result tonight,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz, the famous doctor who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the race.
“Get some rest,” Oz told his supporters at his election observation party. “When all the votes are counted, I’m confident that we will win.”
Dave McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO and the other frontrunner in the running, told his own supporters that thousands of mail-in ballots still had to be counted.
“Unfortunately, we won’t find a solution tonight. But we can see the way ahead. We can see victory ahead of us, and it’s all because of you,” McCormick said.
The two candidates were separated by a few hundred votes shortly after midnight.
The Pennsylvania State Department acknowledged the delay in the results, attributing the delay to the fact that the state’s laws do not allow for “pre-collection” of ballots before Election Day. That means counties could not begin counting those absentee ballots until Tuesday morning, Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said in a press release.
She noted that about 900,000 absentee ballot applications were submitted for the primary and said she expects the bulk of those ballots to be counted “within a few days.”
The picture on the Democratic side of the primary was much clearer: NBC News predicted that Lt. gov. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania will win the state’s Democratic Senate primary.
Fetterman, who recently suffered a stroke that cut him off from campaigning, was the big favorite in the Democratic contest. He and the eventual Republican nominee will face each other in a general election that could play a crucial role in which party controls the US Senate after the Midterms.
The battle lines for November’s Pennsylvania gubernatorial race were also drawn Tuesday night, with NBC forecasting Republican Senator Doug Mastriano to face Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Mastriano, who has made false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, was backed by Trump just three days before the primary. Shapiro ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination to replace current Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, whose term is limited to one re-run.
Oz, the former host of The Dr. Oz Show,” made waves when he announced he would be running as a Republican for the Senate seat vacated by retired GOP Sen. Pat Toomey. He received Trump’s coveted endorsement, and his campaign has reportedly spent more than $12 million in the race on advertising alone.
Mehmet Oz, famed physician and Republican US Senate candidate for Pennsylvania, speaks at a city hall in Bell Blue, Pennsylvania, on Monday, May 16, 2022.
Rachel Wisniewski | Bloomberg | Getty Images
But Oz, a first-time activist who has lived in New Jersey for two decades, was tied in the polls with two other Republicans: McCormick and right-wing commentator Kathy Barnette, who rose in popularity in the last few days of the primary.
Toomey’s Senate seat could prove one of the most competitive in the general election as Democrats seek to retain control of a chamber split 50-50 by party.
Lt. gov. John Fetterman, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate for Pennsylvania, takes a selfie with attendees of a meet-and-greet at the Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton, Pennsylvania May 1, 2022.
Hannah Beier Reuters
Fetterman would defeat his leading rivals, US Representative Conor Lamb and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta.
President Joe Biden said in a congratulatory statement Tuesday night that Democrats are “united around John.”
He “understands that working class families in Pennsylvania and across the country have been doled out for far too long,” Biden’s statement said. “It’s time to come to terms with them and the election of John to the United States Senate would be a huge step forward for working class people in Pennsylvania.”
The president also took a hit at the Republican primary field.
“They fought a malicious, chaotic primary campaign to be the most extreme,” Biden said. “And they’ve shown people their authentic selves — that whoever comes up will be too dangerous, too cowardly, and too extreme to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate.”
Fetterman’s bid for the Senate took a turn over the weekend when his campaign announced the candidate had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital. Fetterman said in a statement that he expects to make a full recovery, although the illness kept him off track in the final days of elementary school.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the Democrat’s campaign said Fetterman had completed successful surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator. He is resting in hospital after the procedure, which his campaign says lasted more than two and a half hours.