Despite a stamp of support from former president and fellow TV personality Donald Trump, celebrity-doctor-turned U.S. Senate hopeful Dr. Mehmet Oz failed tonight to clinch the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Oz and former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick are the two front runners in the race, which continues to be in too close to call, with McCormick clocking in at 31.2% of the vote and Oz at 31.1% as of 9 p.m. PT, according to the Washington Post. Under Pennsylvania law, any vote margin under .5% automatically triggers a recount.
The race was tight after the polls closed and tightened further as results came in, making a recount all but certain. Out of 1.1 million Republican votes cast in the primary, Oz and McCormick remain separated by just 1477 votes, per Fox News.
A dark horse candidate, Kathy Barnette, who raised far less than her better-known opponents but had surge of support late in the race thanks to a strong debate performance, may have been a spoiler, coming in at 24.7%. That’s good ROI, considering Oz and McCormick lent their own campaigns $12 million and $11 million, respectively.
Oz is a longtime resident of New Jersey, but according to the Associated Press, he registered to his in-law’s address in the Philadelphia suburbs to vote by absentee last year, which qualified him to run the in the state this year.
He was booed by potential supporters at a rainy rally he held with Trump on May 7. He likely didn’t change any of those Pennsylvanians’ minds when he refused last week to say the 2020 election was rigged. Support of that false narrative has been a litmus test for many Trump supporters.
Late Tuesday night, Oz took to the stage at his campaign headquarters to admit there likely won’t be a result tonight, but he is confident of a win. To Trump he said, “I’ll make you proud.”
He went on to thank Fox News’ Sean Hannity for what he said were late night conversations and advice.
“Sean’s like a brother to me,” said the TV doctor to those assembled. “When Sean punches, he punches through walls.”
Whoever the newly-minted Republican nominee is, he will face Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a popular Democrat who even as he had a had a pacemaker implanted today after suffering a stroke last week, easily defeated his main rivals, Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, in the race for his party’s nomination for the seat.