The Republican primary race for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat remains too close to call two days after the election.
With 98% of the expected vote counted, television host Dr. Mehmet Oz has a slight edge over former Bush official David McCormick. The former has 31.2% of the vote, while the latter has 31.1%, per The New York Times. Kathy Barnette — the conservative commentator who experienced a surge in the final days of the race — is effectively out of contention with 24.7%.
Oz performed particularly well in the eastern part of the commonwealth, while McCormick clinched many counties in the western and central portions. The results come despite polls in the days before the primary election that indicated a two-way contest between Oz and Barnette.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump prompted Oz — his endorsed candidate — to claim the win. “Dr. Oz should declare victory. It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find,’” Trump claimed on Truth Social, his social media company.
Oz was the most polarizing Republican candidate in the Senate primary, according to an Emerson College poll taken ahead of the election. Although he is leading the race, 48% of Republicans reported a “somewhat or strongly unfavorable opinion” of Oz. Republicans had a 32% unfavorable view of McCormick and a 28% unfavorable view of Barnette.
The Pennsylvania Department of State warned in a Tuesday statement that the results of many close elections will not be immediately available. “We expect to have unofficial results within a few days,” the agency said. “Given the possibility of recounts and the need for official certifications, it is unlikely that final results in all races will be available tonight.”
Oz or McCormick will face Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the winner of the Democratic Senate primary, in November. The victor will then succeed Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who is retiring after two terms in the Senate. Democrats therefore have a chance to flip the seat in the general election.
Fetterman defeated U.S. Congressman Conor Lamb despite suffering a stroke over the weekend and successfully undergoing a procedure to receive a pacemaker on election day. Fetterman — who was the longtime mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, before becoming lieutenant governor in 2019 — carried every county and more than doubled Lamb’s share of the Democratic electorate.
Fetterman is known for wearing basketball shorts and a hoodie to campaign events. As Fetterman said in one campaign interview: “I’m just a dude that shows up and just talks about what I believe in, you know?”
In contrast, Lamb is a Marine veteran and former prosecutor who earned national recognition for defeating Rick Saccone, a Republican, in the 2018 special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district. As The New York Times recently described, Lamb is a “moderate who had won in Trump territory and swing suburbs alike.”
Nevertheless, the 37-year-old, clean-cut lawmaker failed to excite the Democratic base in what promises to be a polarizing midterm season.
“He had rock star potential — their campaign flittered that away,” longtime Pennsylvania Democratic operative and Lamb supporter Mike Mikus told The New York Times. “They ran a campaign that said, ‘Let’s stay above the fray. Everyone’s going to love it.’ But they were behind from the day he got in the race and ran the wrong campaign to close the gap.”