David McCormick admits to Dr. Ounceswithin the GOP Main for Senate in Pennsylvania

David McCormick, a former hedge fund manager, on Friday admitted Dr. Mehmet Oz, the famous television doctor, entered the extremely close race for the Republican Senate nomination in Pennsylvania, with a statewide recount underway and no official call for the race.

dr Oz had a lead of less than 1,000 votes, or 0.07 percent, before the county-by-county recount began last week. The unexpected early concession was confirmed by Mr McCormick’s campaign five days before the full recount results were due to be released. It was recognition that Mr McCormick had only received a handful of votes so far and faced an insurmountable hurdle to making up his deficit.

His decision ushers in one of the most important contests of the Midterms, a November election between Dr. Oz and the Democratic candidate, Lt. gov. John Fetterman.

The primary initially produced a photo finish, with both campaigns calling for every vote to be counted — a contrast to how Republican supporters of former President Donald J. Trump reacted to his 2020 loss in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Trump, the Dr. Oz, the day after the election, urged him to follow his own covert script and declare victory before every vote was counted, including absentee and mail-in ballots pouring in from military officials and foreign voters.

After major races in Georgia, Pennsylvania and other states, here’s what we’ve learned.

dr Oz, the longtime host of The Dr. Oz Show” on daytime television, mostly ignored the advice. But when the recount began on May 27, he declared himself the “presumptive” candidate. The recount was ordered by Leigh M. Chapman, the state’s acting Commonwealth Secretary, and triggered automatically by Pennsylvania law because the gap between the candidates was less than 0.5 percent.

Scores of candidate lawyers challenged small batches of provisional ballots before county election commissions, called for hand counts in certain counties, and went to court, throwing out every vote. Mr McCormick, who led his opponent in mail-in ballots, complained of enclosing about 850 mail-in ballots that were received on time but did not have the voters’ handwritten information on the envelopes, as required by state law.

Both the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the Republican National Committee intervened to oppose the lawsuit. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania sided with Mr McCormick by giving counties a temporary order to separate and count ballots, presenting both one vote count that includes them and another that does not.

The stakes are high for both parties in November’s election: Pennsylvania is probably the Democrats’ best chance to add a seat to their fragile 50-50 control of the Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the casting vote. With the resignation of Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, the seat is the only GOP-held vacant Senate seat in a state won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020. For Republicans, keeping it would pave the way to a Senate majority a year from now if the political climate is strongly in their favor.

dr Oz, 61, who won Mr Trump’s support in large part because of his television charisma, was never fully embraced by core Trump supporters, the closeness of the race shows. At a rally held by Mr. Trump 11 days before Election Day in Pennsylvania, mention of Dr. Oz greeted with boos.

Understand the 2022 midterm elections

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Why are these midterms so important? This year’s races could shift the balance of power in Congress toward Republicans and hamper President Biden’s agenda for the second half of his term. They will also test former President Donald J. Trump’s role as GOP kingmaker. Here’s what you should know:

What are the midterm elections? Midterms occur two years after a presidential election, in the middle of a presidential term—hence the name. There are many seats up for grabs this year, including all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate and 36 out of 50 governorships.

What do the midterms mean for Biden? With slim majorities in Congress, Democrats are struggling to pass Mr. Biden’s agenda. Republican control of the House or Senate would make the President’s legislative goals all but impossible.

What races are there? Only a handful of seats will decide whether Democrats retain control of the House over Republicans, and a single state could shift power in the 50-50 Senate. Here are 10 House and Senate races, as well as several major gubernatorial contests.

When do the most important races take place? The primary gauntlet is already underway. Closely watched races were held in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia in May, and more were held throughout the summer. The primaries run until September ahead of the November 8 general election.

go deeper What is a county re-election and how does it affect midterm elections? How does the poll work? How do I register to vote? Here you will find further answers to your pressing midterm questions.

Mr. McCormick, a West Point graduate and former CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, was more competitive than polls and many policy pundits expected. In part, that was because Dr. Oz has historically held liberal views, particularly on abortion and transgender issues, which made him toxic to some conservatives.

The hesitation, Dr. Embracing Oz from the Trump-centered grassroots enabled a late uplift for a far-right candidate, Kathy Barnette. On election day, when she finished third with about 25 percent of the vote, she appeared to Dr. Pulling Oz Trump supporters from the base. She did so after declaring that “MAGA does not belong to President Trump” and despite Mr Trump’s firing that Ms Barnette, who has made homophobic and anti-Muslim remarks in the past, “will never be able to to win general elections”.

dr Oz and Mr. McCormick, both first-time candidates, worked hard to transform themselves from members of the East Coast elite with mediocre politics into credible advocates of the MAGA movement.

Blake Hounshell contributed to the coverage.

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