Pennsylvania is in the middle of a recount for its Republican Senate primary — but Democrats are already campaigning against both candidates.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, a television host and surgeon, currently leads David McCormick, a former Bush official and hedge fund executive, by fewer than 1,000 votes. Because the candidates fall within a 0.5% margin with one another, the Pennsylvania Department of State ordered a recount in accordance with commonwealth law.
Democrats see the Pennsylvania race as one of their best chances to flip a Senate seat in an uphill battle to keep control of both chambers of Congress. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, will vacate his seat after his upcoming retirement. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is therefore sparing no arrows in campaigning against both Oz and McCormick.
“Dems will label McCormick and Oz as ‘damaged goods’ — highlighting their positions on Social Security and Medicare, and the GOP tax plan, and claiming both candidates have enriched themselves through connections to China,” according to a report from Axios. Democrats are releasing two videos — one calling McCormick a “Wall Street insider” and another slamming Oz for “pretending to be from Pennsylvania and pushing Trump’s election lies.”
Either Oz or McCormick will face Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who defeated U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb to decisively win the Democratic Senate primary, in November.
“Democrats are wasting no time” casting Oz as a “scam artist” and McCormick as a “Wall Street insider,” DSCC spokesman Patrick Burgwinkle told Axios. He added that Democrats want the eventual Republican candidate to enter the general election “even more badly damaged.”
Oz and McCormick, however, still appear to have their attention focused on emerging from the recount. McCormick sued in Pennsylvania court after the primary race to make county election boards tally undated mail-in ballots. McCormick’s lawsuit claimed that the county boards are “disenfranchising” voters who did not date their ballots.
Although the McCormick team is calling for the counting of undated ballots, the Oz campaign — with the backing of the Republican National Committee (RNC) — argues that the ballots should remain uncounted. Indeed, the Oz camp has alleged that McCormick is “following the Democrats’ playbook” and eroding voters’ confidence in the election.
Both candidates’ legal teams presented their cases before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court earlier this week. The Pennsylvania Department of State has directed the counties to finish the recount by noon on June 7 and submit results by noon on June 8.
The news of the heightened Democratic campaigns against Oz and McCormick comes as progressives worry about Fetterman’s health, according to a report from NBC News. Fetterman — the former mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania — was hospitalized days ahead of the primary election after suffering a stroke.
One elected Pennsylvania Democrat told the outlet that there has been “no indication” of a timeline for Fetterman’s return to the campaign trail. “A lot of us Democratic Party types are very nervous about it.”
A Pennsylvania Democratic strategist told NBC that he and others do not know what to make of Fetterman’s absence. “It’s not like Fetterman has close institutional allies, so Dems are calling around wanting to ask the question, but no clue where to get a sense of how serious it is.”