Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary is headed for a recount with Trump adding to the chaos

Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary is headed for a recount with Trump adding to the chaos
Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidates Mehmet Oz and David McCormickStephanie Keith, Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc via Getty Images
  • The GOP primary for Sen. Pat Toomey's seat in Pennsylvania is headed to a recount.
  • Mehmet Oz and David McCormick are so close that they'll likely trigger an automatic recount.

Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary is headed to an automatic recount with the Senate majority hanging in the balance.

Celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz leads former hedge fund CEO David McCormick by just 956 votes a week after the election, according to Insider's partners at Decision Desk HQ, separating the two by just 0.08 points and falling well within the 0.5-point margin that triggers an automatic recount in Pennsylvania.

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman called the recount on Wednesday after the May 24 deadline for counties to send her unofficial election returns. As with every election, the unofficial returns don't include a small share of remaining military, overseas, and provisional ballots.

And McCormick's campaign is suing to count an undetermined number of absentee ballots that lack a handwritten date on the outer envelope after a federal court ruled that officials must count around 250 such ballots cast in the 2021 election.

The Republican National Committee and Pennsylvania Republican Party intervened in the lawsuit against McCormick, siding with Oz's campaign's position that the ballots should not be counted under Pennsylvania law.


The looming recount and legal battle will extend an already expensive, tumultuous, and high-stakes primary election.

Oz and McCormick, who are both independently wealthy, have spent $12 million and $11 million on their own campaigns, respectively, and could soon find themselves paying even more for election lawyers across the state.

And the delay in resolving the Republican primary could take up precious time that ultimately advantages the Democratic Senate nominee in one of the nation's most competitive 2022 Senate races.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who easily cleared the field for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, raised an eye-popping $1.6 million the day after winning the race, his campaign said.

Making matters even more chaotic, President Donald Trump has been publicly pressuring Oz — his endorsed candidate who struggled to consolidate the MAGA vote — to preemptively declare victory, as the former president did in 2020.


Echoing his previous false statements baselessly alleging fraud, Trump told Oz in a TRUTH Social post that declaring victory before the vote is finalized "makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they 'just happened to find.'"

Both Oz and McCormick projected confidence and predicted they will win when all the votes are counted on election night, but they've otherwise ignored Trump's meddling and have not gone as far as the former president in questioning the validity of the mail-in ballots that could secure either of them a victory.

McCormick in particular has benefited from the mail-in and absentee votes relative to Oz, though it remains unclear how large a share of the remaining ballots fall into those categories.

Ballot counting hiccups in two counties have further delayed counting. In 31 precincts in Allegheny County, flash drives containing election data were left at polling sites instead of taken to central counting locations and couldn't be retrieved for tabulation until the Monday after the election, county officials said.

And in Lancaster County, a printing error of the county's absentee ballots made them unable to be read by scanners, meaning election workers had to manually duplicate and scan 16,000 ballots.


Pennsylvania has been a ground-zero of highly-scrutinized election processes, legal battles over voting laws, and aggressive efforts by Republicans to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss. Those efforts culminated in 2020 election denier and January 6 rally attendee state Sen. Doug Mastriano with Trump's backing, easily securing the Republican nomination for governor.

But looking towards November, a drawn-out, highly-watched recount in the Senate primary will force the winner to concede that Pennsylvania can indeed run a clean, close election and recount after all — especially if Oz prevails with the "ballots they just happened to find."