David McCormick has conceded to Dr. Mehmet Oz, handing the Trump-endorsed television personality the GOP nomination in the Pennsylvania Senate race. A lengthy recount process delayed the results of the tight primary contest, and the final results had yet to be announced when McCormick shared his decision Friday.
For much of the campaign, the Pennsylvania GOP primary was centered on Oz and McCormick, with conservative commentator Kathy Barnette surging in polls in the closing days of the race. But Oz and McCormick did end up in a close contest, separated by less than 1,000 votes and well within the state’s margins for a mandatory recount. The concession sets up a general election matchup between Oz and Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who made headlines Friday because of his health.
“You put your trust in us, your faith in us, and it’s a friendship that we’ll be blessed to have the rest of our lives. And we came so close. We came so close, by the slimmest of margins, on election night,” McCormick told supporters Friday evening. “We spent the last 17 days making sure that every Republican vote was counted in a way that would result in the will of Pennsylvania voters to be fulfilled. Because that’s what it’s all about. That’s what this process is all about.”
“But it’s not clear to me. With the recount largely complete, I bet we have a nominee. And today, I called Mehmet Oz to congratulate him on his victory,” he added. “And I told him what I always said to you: that I will do my part to try to unite Republicans and Pennsylvanians behind his candidacy [and] behind his nomination for the Senate.”
The original totals showed Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, leading McCormick by less than 1,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million votes cast in the seven-person GOP primary, or about 0.1 percentage point. Pennsylvania conducts mandatory recounts when the top two candidates are separated by half a percentage point or less unless the candidates waive that right. McCormick’s campaign pursued the recount.
McCormick noted he would put his full support behind Oz as he heads into the general election, urging Republicans to band together to ensure victory against the Democratic Party.
“I received a gracious phone call from David McCormick and am tremendously grateful for his pledge of support in the fall election. We share the goal of a brighter future for Pennsylvania & America,” Oz tweeted Friday. “Now that our primary is over, we will make sure that this U.S. Senate seat does not fall into the hands of the radical left, led by John Fetterman. I look forward to campaigning in every corner of the Commonwealth for the next five months to earn the support of every Pennsylvanian.”
Trump last year originally endorsed Sean Parnell for the race, but he suspended his campaign after his estranged wife accused him of domestic abuse and a judge awarded her sole legal and primary physical custody of their children. Trump later backed Oz over McCormick when polls indicated it was a two-way race between the two men, arguing McCormick had business interests in China, among other charges. The move surprised some, as McCormick was backed by Trump allies, including his adviser Kellyanne Conway.
In the final days of the race, as McCormick and Oz were locked in a war of words, Barnette began to surge in polls after she released an ad titled “It wasn’t a choice. It was a life” in which she said her mother was raped when she was just 11 years old and that Barnette is the result of her mother rejecting abortion under those horrific circumstances. The ad seemed to resonate with anti-abortion Republican primary voters, especially as a recent leak from the Supreme Court indicated the court may repeal its Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.
But Barnette wasn’t considered a front-runner until the final days of the race and as such did not undergo the same level of scrutiny as some of her rivals until the race drew to a close. She reportedly attended the rally preceding the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, though as of press time, there did not appear to be evidence that she breached the complex. Among the criticisms of Barnette were her controversial remarks on Twitter, including tweets some described as Islamophobic. Oz, who if elected would be the country’s first Muslim senator, called the tweets disqualifying.
Oz faced criticism from some Republicans for his Turkish military background and dual citizenship, and some argued that he was insufficiently conservative or lacked a demonstrable record. He will go on to face Fetterman, who won his primary election in May.
The race is considered to be a toss-up, and Democrats are trying to flip the seat blue. The race could determine which party controls the evenly divided Senate.
Republicans already seized on opportunities to attack Fetterman as they waited to hear who would be their party’s nominee, airing a television ad slamming Fetterman for supporting President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and several liberal policies.
The ad hit Pennsylvania airwaves Friday, just hours before Fetterman revealed that his doctor diagnosed him with cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart muscle to become weakened and enlarged. The Democrat suffered a stroke in mid-May, mere days before winning the nomination for Senate, and was released from the hospital more than a week later.
Democrats also began messaging attacks against both McCormick and Oz before the former’s concession Friday. Meanwhile, Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has reserved $26 million in television time in Pennsylvania, described as an initial advertising buy.