Oz wins Pa. Senate primary ahead of showdown with Fetterman

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Dr. Mehmet Oz, the famed heart surgeon backed by former President Donald Trump, won the Republican US Senate primary in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, narrowly defeating former hedge fund CEO David McCormick after days of a nationwide recount rattled by legal disputes reached the nation’s highest court.

The recount showed that Oz had defeated McCormick in the May 17 primary by 951 out of more than 1.3 million votes cast. It came days after McCormick gave up racing and conceded he wasn’t getting the boost he needed to close the gap.

In November’s general election, Oz will face Democratic Lt. gov. John Fetterman, not campaigning while recovering from a stroke and severe heart disease. The race could help determine control of the tightly divided Senate, and Democrats see it as perhaps their best opportunity to snag a seat in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

“Now that the nationwide recount is officially complete, it’s time to focus on how high the stakes are in November,” Oz said in a statement.

National parties and Fetterman have begun testing general campaign strategies and airing television ads in Pennsylvania, a presidential state still reeling from Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from it.

Trump backed Oz about five weeks before the primary, saying his decision was “everything designed to win elections.” The former President also had a long personal history with Oz, best known as the host of the daytime show The Dr. Oz Show” is known.

Trump said his wife Melania is a big fan of the show. Still, despite Trump’s boost, Oz barely won. In the final days of the campaign, Trump held a pro-Oz rally and brutally attacked Oz’s closest rivals, including McCormick and Conservative activist Kathy Barnette, who finished third.

Oz, who has dual citizenship in Turkey, would be the country’s first Muslim senator if elected. He has remained relatively quiet and aloof from the campaign during the recount.

Fetterman, meanwhile, is recovering from a stroke he suffered just days before his own elementary school, which he easily won. He said last week that he “nearly died” from the stroke and admitted that for years he ignored warning signs and a doctor’s advice to take blood thinners.

His cardiologist also announced that Fetterman is being treated for a heart condition that can be fatal. He has disappeared from public view and has not given a date for returning to campaigning.

While Fetterman is recovering, his campaign has launched two TV commercials in which Fetterman portrays himself as a normal man who will “take on Washington” — perhaps a nod to the political headwinds for President Joe Biden and other Democrats since Americans report skeptical about economic outlook and Biden’s record.

In an ad, Fetterman railed against outsourced jobs, closed factories, rising costs and low wages, saying, “These decisions were made for us by people who don’t know us.”

National Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to tie Fetterman to the most liberal members of his party and to the Biden administration. In a statement Wednesday night, Oz said Pennsylvanians “want someone to oppose the liberal Biden-Fetterman agenda leading to higher gas prices, record inflation and unprecedented levels of violent crime.”

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Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at twitter.com/timelywriter

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