If you’re watching the Pennsylvania Senate GOP primary and are a nail-biter, you might want to avoid the recount battle that’s taking place over the next few days. While a famous surgeon Mehmed Oz has begun branding himself a “presumptive candidate,” his rival, a former hedge fund manager David McCormick, has refused to give up. Two weeks into the official recount – required by law when the gap between the top two contenders is less than 0.5 percent – McCormick has gradually closed the gap between himself and Oz. As of Wednesday afternoon, there is a razor-thin 0.02 percent gap between the two in a race that saw around 1.3 million ballots cast.
Whatever happens next, there’s no question that McCormick outperformed. “I know probably nobody wants to hear that right now, but it’s pretty impressive that he’s gone from zero percent name recognition to being almost on par with the guy Trump was backing and attacking him for,” a source close to the statement said the McCormick campaign. Actually despite Trump throws his weight behind Oz, insulting McCormick and his allies and holding up his fire Kathy Barnettthe third-place “Ultra-MAGA” longshot, which nearly stole the race, took full advantage of McCormick jeff roe‘s Playbook — walking the line between blazing Trumpiness and establishment-friendly country-club republicanism — to come within millimeters of victory. And he can still win.
Aside from the official recount, McCormick’s team has recently requested hand counts in at least 12 boroughs in 12 different counties, demonstrating the Trumpian fanaticism with which they are trying to secure a victory. (They stopped accusing voter fraud, a move that would draw McCormick squarely into it Rudy Giuliani Territory.) A key component of their strategy depends on their ability to validate a batch of rejected mail-in ballots — 860 of them, to be precise — even though the ballots lack the properly written post-receipt date.
The dispute could even be framed by the Supreme Court – yes, the one in our nation’s capital. Aside from their lawsuit for having hand counts, McCormick’s team is suing the state for making them count undated ballots, arguing that those ballots are valid as long as the people who cast them signed their names and returned them before the expiration date Deadline would have sent whether they had spelled the date correctly or not. Could those 860 ballots be enough to make the difference should Pennsylvania judges rule them admissible? Possibly, considering McCormick did better among voters who sent in their ballots. “In such a close race, every little thing made the difference [it’s] I think it’s difficult to jump to any big conclusions,” one Republican watching the race told me.
If McCormick prevails on his current challenges, it could lead to some embarrassment between McCormick and his party: the Republican National Committee has a vested interest in keeping undated ballots out of the official count (see: Trump’s 2020 claims of massive mail-in voter fraud) and has officially sided with Oz in this case. A McCormick win could also alienate various elements of the grassroots: nearly a quarter of Pennsylvania’s primary electorate rejected both McCormick and Oz, instead of the distant Trumpier Barnette. And McCormick never looked entirely comfortable in the red MAGA gear. “You can’t just put your hat on, you have to be able to speak the language and speak to voters,” a source close to Trumpworld said. “Did he talk about the voters in Arizona, Michigan and other states and how they betrayed the entire nation? Did he talk about Dominion voting machines?”
Ironically, McCormick’s team is now fighting the election results with exactly the kind of stormy, combative spirit that was lacking on the campaign trail. Dave hasn’t become a vote keeper – there have been no allegations of cheating, barring the specter of various “anomalies”. He already missed his chance to win Trump’s support months ago (despite flying to Mar-a-Lago twice). But his campaign manager Jeff Roe still has a long political career ahead of him. And he appears to be auditioning for Trump himself.
As my colleague Tara Palmeri As previously reported, it is widely believed in Trumpworld that Roe wants to run Trump’s 2024 campaign and that he wooed Trump for the job. The two have worked against each other and taken opposite sides in several GOP primary this season, most notably in Ohio and Pennsylvania. But Trump values people who oppose him, and especially those he sees as “winners.” Roe’s recent win-loss record is mixed – his client Josch Mandel lost the Ohio Senate primary, but another customer, jim pills, won the Nebraska governor’s primary against those supported by Trump Karl Hebber— but the general impression among those in Trump’s orbit is that by giving everything for McCormick, Roe looks like a fighter.
“I’m saying this — as someone who doesn’t like Roe very much — he’s Trump’s best shot at winning in 2024,” a source close to Trumpworld told me, highlighting some of Roe’s many accomplishments: nearly pulling ted cruz crossed the finish line in 2016, achieved victories in territories unfriendly to Trumpism, occasionally surpassed Trump’s recommendations, and, crucially, understanding how to get Trump’s attention. It also offers the tantalizing (if perhaps naïve) opportunity to lend an aura of professionalism to Trump after a 2020 campaign overrun by political amateurs and electoral conspiracy geeks. “Trump in a Jeff Roe campaign is basically isolating him from the rest of the Trump world,” this person posited to me. “It gives him something of a clean slate.”
Given the near-constant interpersonal drama, insidiousness, and circus sideshows that have dominated the Trump presidency, perhaps Roe’s inclusion could give his campaign a much-needed fresh start. Yes, we’ve heard that before. But Roe, different Corey Lewandowski, Paul Mannfort, Bill Stepienor Brad Parscale, is a genuine, serious and thoughtful political strategist. When I last interviewed him in December, he was careful to articulate a vision of a post-Trump GOP without ever closing the door on Trumpism or Trump.
Still, just like the first year of the Trump administration, it was faction-run Javanka, Steve Banon and reince priebus, It’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t be an inevitable cultural clash between Roe and the new tribes gathered on the back patio of Mar-a-Lago. “In many ways, I see the campaigns as Jeff Roe’s campaigns and not Candidate X’s campaigns,” the Trumpworld source added. That’s a far cry from Lewandowski’s former mantra of “Let Trump be Trump”.