By MARC LEVY – Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiac surgeon and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, spent Wednesday essentially undecided in Pennsylvania’s hotly contested race for the Republican nomination to fill an open US Senate seat. It’s also expected to be one of the party’s most competitive races with Democrats in the fall.
The GOP nomination fight was too early to call.
Oz led McCormick by 1,723 votes Wednesday, out of more than 1.3 million votes counted. Tens of thousands of votes remained to be counted, including at least 22,000 absentee ballots and an unknown number of votes cast on Election Day.
Nationwide, McCormick outperformed Oz on absentee ballots, while Oz outperformed on Election Day votes cast. Counties also have yet to count preliminary, foreign, and military mail-in ballots before certifying their results to the state by next Tuesday’s deadline.
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The race was close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the separation between candidates being within the law’s 0.5 percent margin.
Oz and McCormick showed up at their night watch parties after midnight to say they would have to wait for the count to resume, with each saying they were confident of victory. Former President Donald Trump encouraged Oz to pre-emptively declare victory. but Oz has given no indication of it.
Both contestants appeared on Fox News late Wednesday and expressed confidence they would win.
“I’m excited to see where we are,” McCormick told host Laura Ingraham.
Oz told Sean Hannity that “the election is ours, we did well”.
State lieutenant governor John Fetterman won the Democratic nomination hours after he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to help him recover from a stroke he suffered on Friday.
Democrats see the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey as perhaps their best opportunity to grab a seat in the tightly divided 100-seat Senate.
Republican turnout exceeded 37%, the highest mid-term turnout in the primary election in at least two decades, spurred by more than $70 million in advertising and other spending.
Oz was helped by a Trump endorsement, while a super PAC supporting McCormick weighed heavily on the race and spent about $20 million, much of it attacking Oz.
Both men spent millions of their own dollars on the campaign and fought back accusations of being carpet workers — Oz moved from a New Jersey mansion overlooking Manhattan to run, and McCormick moved from Connecticut’s ritzy Gold Coast.
Oz, best known as the anchor of the daytime show The Dr. Oz Show,” has struggled with concerns from conservative groups about his positions on guns, abortion and other core conservative issues. He countered that Trump’s endorsement guaranteed he was a conservative.
Oz has also been repeatedly attacked for his dual citizenship in Turkey, and he accused McCormick of carrying out “biased attacks”. If elected, Oz would be the nation’s first Muslim Senator, although he did not campaign for that milestone. He was born in the US and has announced that he will give up his dual citizenship in Turkey if he is elected.
McCormick is a US Army veteran who has had strong ties to the party establishment since his time in the administration of President George W. Bush.
McCormick, however, spent much of the campaign fending off accusations from rivals that he was being lenient towards China after exiting a hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, which does sizable business in China with the blessing of the government there.
Trump repeatedly attacked McCormick in the final two weeks of the race, calling him a liberal, a sell-off to China and part of a corrosive Washington establishment that is not “America First,” Trump’s term for his governing philosophy.
Despite this, McCormick insisted that he was the America First candidate in the running and capped it off by airing a television commercial showing a video clip of Trump at a private ceremony in 2020, in which he congratulated McCormick and said: “You have served our country well in so many different ways.”
Oz and McCormick both avoided repeating Trump’s false claims that the Democrats stole the 2020 presidential election from him in the battleground state. They failed to reiterate Republican complaints about decisions by state judges and election officials to conduct the election.
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