With fewer than 1,000 votes separating them, the close primary election between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick for the open U.S. Senate seat is going into a recount.
Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman announced the recount Wednesday afternoon. It was triggered by the 0.5 percent margin between the two candidates’ vote totals and must be completed by June 7.
Unofficial returns showed Oz with 419,365 votes or 31.21 percent and McCormick at 418,463 or 31.14 percent.
McCormick also filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to permit mail-in ballots without a date written on them by the voter to be counted. Chapman told county election offices to set those ballots aside to await the court’s decision.
But McCormick’s move garnered swift pushback from state and national Republican Party officials.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, said via Twitter: “Both Republican candidates in Pennsylvania would be fantastic senators. The RNC is committed to election integrity and election laws must be followed. We’re intervening in a Pennsylvania legal battle alongside the @PAGOP to ensure just that.”
RNC Chief Counsel Matt Raymer said, “The RNC is intervening in this lawsuit alongside the Pennsylvania GOP because election laws are meant to be followed, and changing the rules when ballots are already being counted harms the integrity of our elections. Either of Pennsylvania’s leading Republican Senate candidates would represent the Keystone State better than a Democrat, but Pennsylvania law is clear that undated absentee ballots may not be counted. This is another example of the RNC’s ironclad commitment to ensuring that the highest standards of transparency and security are upheld throughout the election process.”
And conservative radio talk host Dom Giordano told the Delaware Valley Journal podcast he thinks McCormick’s decision to go to court is a mistake. He believes McCormick should “take one for the team” and emerge as the GOP’s nominee to take on state Sen. Bob Casey (D) in 2024.
“I like McCormick, and to spend all that money and lose by so few votes — I get it. If your attorney says there’s another avenue, you do it,” Giordano said. “Once it becomes apparent where we are, he [McCormick] should be aware that Casey is viewed as very vulnerable, and he’d have the entire GOP behind him.”
As of Wednesday night, however, the McCormick campaign was pressing ahead. Spokesperson Jess Szymanski said the litigation the campaign filed was to require counties to adhere to a recent ruling by the “Republican-leaning Third Circuit Court to count Republican ballots signed by a voter, received and timestamped by 8 p.m. on Election Day. These ‘undated’ ballots are in fact dated because they’re timestamped and proven to have arrived on time,” she said.
“Once we have counted all Republican votes received on time, we will unite behind a strong GOP nominee to defeat socialist John Fetterman in the fall. All Republicans should be focused on that goal.”
The McCormick campaign believes the state Supreme Court will decide whether to hear its appeal by the close of business Thursday, Szymanski said.
Dave McCormick said via Twitter, “We are proud our campaign received nearly 418,000 votes, won 37 of 67 counties, and contributed to a historic turnout with a razor-thin difference between myself and Mehmet Oz. 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.”
Lawrence Tabas, chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party says he believes either Republican will defeat Fetterman in the general election.
“We look forward to working with whoever is the nominee, once the primary results are certified,” Tabas said.