David McCormick loses the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary to Dr. Oz.
David McCormick, a former executive at a hedge fund, gave up the race for the Republican nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania to Dr. Mehmet Oz, a famous TV doctor, on Friday, while a statewide recount was still going on and no official race call had been made.
Before the county-by-county recount began last week, Dr. Oz was ahead by less than 1,000 votes, or.07%. The unexpected early concession came five days before the full results of the recount were to be made public. It was an admission that Mr. McCormick had only gained a small number of votes so far and would not be able to make up the difference.
His choice sets up a November election between Dr. Oz and the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, that will be one of the most important of the midterms.
Mr. McCormick told supporters in Harrisburg on Friday night, “We spent the last 17 days making sure every Republican vote was counted.” “But now that the recount is mostly done, it’s clear to me that we have a nominee. And today I called Mehmet Oz to tell him how happy I was for him.”
The primary was close at first, and both campaigns wanted all votes to be counted. This was very different from how Republican supporters of former President Donald J. Trump reacted to his loss in Pennsylvania in 2020, when he and his allies tried to stop ballots from being counted after Election Day.
The day after the election, Mr. Trump, who had backed Dr. Oz, told him to follow his own conspiracy theories—he still says the presidential election was “stolen”—and declare victory before all the votes were in.
Dr. Oz, who has been the host of the daytime TV show “The Dr. Oz Show” for a long time, mostly ignored the advice. But on May 27, when the recount started, he said that he was the “presumptive” winner. Leigh M. Chapman, the state’s acting secretary of the commonwealth, asked for the recount. Pennsylvania law required it because the difference between the two candidates was less than 0.5%.
Armies of lawyers for the candidates fought over every vote. They took small groups of provisional ballots to county election boards, asked for hand recounts in some precincts, and went to court. Mr. McCormick, who had more mail-in votes than his opponent, sued to count about 850 votes that were sent in on time but didn’t have the dates written by hand on the envelopes. Even though the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled in his favor, it was clear that there just weren’t enough votes left for Mr. McCormick to win no matter what.
For weeks, the suspense of the race took attention away from Mr. Fetterman, who had a stroke on May 13, just days before the election. He had to stay in the hospital and get a pacemaker and defibrillator put in his heart. Since then, Mr. Fetterman hasn’t been on the campaign trail, and he wouldn’t say much about his health until Friday. This made people wonder if he would be able to run in the general election.
Mr. Fetterman, who is 52 years old, said on Friday that he “almost died” because he ignored a doctor’s warnings for years that his heart wasn’t pumping as well. His cardiologist told the public that he has cardiomyopathy, which makes it harder for the heart’s muscles to pump. The cardiologist, Ramesh R. Chandra, said that if Mr. Fetterman does what he says and takes care of his health this time, “he should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem.”
Both sides have a lot to lose or gain in the November election: Pennsylvania is probably the best chance for Democrats to add a seat to their 50-50 control of the Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, so she can vote to break a tie in Pennsylvania. Since Senator Patrick J. Toomey is leaving office, this is the only open Senate seat held by the Republican Party in a state that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won in 2020. For Republicans, keeping it would make it easier for them to get a majority in the Senate in a year when politics are very much in their favor.
After Mr. McCormick gave up, Dr. Oz said in a statement, “Now that our primary is over, we will make sure that this U.S. Senate seat doesn’t go to John Fetterman and the radical left.”
Dr. Oz, 61, won Mr. Trump’s support in large part because of how charismatic he is on TV. However, core Trump supporters never fully backed him, which is why the race was so close. When Dr. Oz’s name came up at a rally Mr. Trump held in Pennsylvania 11 days before the election, people booed.
Mr. McCormick, who went to West Point and used to run the world’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, did better than polls and many political experts thought he would. Some conservatives didn’t like Dr. Oz because he has always had liberal views, especially on abortion and transgender issues, which made him dangerous to them.
The Trump supporters who didn’t want to support Dr. Oz made it possible for a hard-right candidate, Kathy Barnette, to make a late surge. On Election Day, when she came in third with about 25% of the vote, it looked like she took some of Dr. Oz’s supporters away from Trump. She did this after saying that “MAGA does not belong to President Trump” and even though Mr. Trump said that Ms. Barnette, who has made homophobic and anti-Muslim comments in the past, “will never be able to win the general election.”
Both Dr. Oz and Mr. McCormick ran for office for the first time. They worked hard to change from members of the East Coast elite with middle-of-the-road politics to credible supporters of the MAGA movement.
Dr. Oz is a retired professor of surgery at Columbia University, but he called for the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, to be fired. He promised to be against almost all abortions, even though he used to think differently. On the day before the election, he held a telephone town hall with gun rights absolutist Ted Nugent, even though he used to help write columns that called for gun control.
During the campaign, Mr. McCormick, a veteran of the Iraq War who had criticized isolationism and sometimes voted for Democrats, was said to be against “the weakness and wokeness that you see across the country.”
Mr. McCormick and his friends called Dr. Oz a “Hollywood liberal” and attacked him for having served in the Turkish army as a dual citizen. Dr. Oz said that if he were elected to the Senate, he would give up being a Turkish citizen.
People also said that Dr. Oz had moved to Pennsylvania just to run for office. Dr. Oz was born in the United States to Turkish immigrants. In the 1980s, he went to the University of Pennsylvania to study medicine and business. He worked in New York for most of his life, and for 30 years, he lived in Northern New Jersey.
He didn’t sign up to vote in Pennsylvania until 2020. Around the same time, he moved into a house owned by his in-laws in Bryn Athyn, Pa., which is a suburb of Philadelphia. According to a financial statement he filed in April, he and his wife, Lisa, bought a home nearby last year. The statement said that his personal wealth was between $76 million and $300 million. If he got into the Senate, he would be one of the richest people there. Already, he has spent $12 million of his own money on his goal.
Dr. Oz and Mr. McCormick both tried hard to get Mr. Trump’s support. The former president chose Dr. Oz because the long-running “Dr. Oz Show” is very popular with women. This was less than six weeks before the election. Mr. Trump said, “Women are drawn to Dr. Oz for his advice and counsel.” “This is something I’ve seen a lot over the years.”
Even though “The Dr. Oz Show” has a long history of giving viewers questionable medical advice, Mr. Trump was right on target when he said that women, especially in the suburbs, are important voters. They have been important swing voters in recent Pennsylvania elections, especially in 2020 when Mr. Trump lost.