More than two weeks following the primary, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick conceded the Republican election in Pennsylvania for the U.S. Senate to celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. He ended his campaign on Friday evening after acknowledging he wouldn’t get enough absentee votes to make up the deficit.
“It’s now clear to me with the recount largely complete that we have a nominee,” McCormick said at a campaign party at a Pittsburgh hotel to the Associated Press. “And today, I called Mehmet Oz to congratulate him on his victory.”
McCormick’s concession means a match-up between Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Democrat John Fetterman in what is expected to be one of the most expensive Senate contests in the nation.
“We share the goal of a brighter future for Pennsylvania and America,” Oz said in a statement. “Now that our primary is over, we will make sure that the U.S. Senate seat does not fall into the hands of the radical left, led by John Fetterman.”
The local outcome could determine if Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) remains Senate Majority Leader or reverts to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as Democrats think it’s one of their best chances to pick up a seat in the race to replace retiring two-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Before the recount, Oz led McCormick by 972 votes out of 1.34 million votes counted in the May 17 primary. On Friday, the state Board of Elections indicated the margin between the two candidates is just 0.07 percentage points – too close to officially call the race.
Fetterman, 52, the state’s lieutenant governor, admitted that he nearly died when he suffered a stroke just days before the primary. Clocking in at 6-foot-8, replete with a slew of tattoos on his arms—part of his political appeal—the Democrat had ignored warning signs for years and a doctor’s advice to take blood thinners.
The Democratic candidate recently met with his neurologist who said that cognitively, “John is perfect, and well on his way to a full recovery,” campaign spokesman Joe Calvello said.
The 61-year-old Oz doesn’t have a lot of history with the GOP, but he’s been friends with Trump for nearly two decades. In a decidedly quirky 2016 appearance on “The Dr. Oz Show”, Trump told him, “you know, my wife’s a big fan of your show.”
The Senate Republicans are taking no chances against the Democratic giant as it launches its first television ad against Fetterman, saying he’s an ally of Bernie Sanders.
The media spot, first reported by POLITICO, said the Democratic candidate “sided with socialists, backed a government takeover of health care” and “embraced parts of the Green New Deal that’d cost you 50,000 bucks a year.”
Born in the United States to Turkish parents, Oz has dual citizenship but has promised to renounce it if elected. If he wins in November, he will also be the nation’s first Muslim senator.
Following the recount tallies, the Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman is expected to officially announce Mr. Oz as the Republican nominee on June 8, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as the Pennsylvania election code requires.