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Businessman David McCormick has conceded to rival Mehmet Oz in the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania, capping off a confusing and narrowly divided process.
McCormick said during a media availability on Friday that he had “came so close” on election night and had spent more than two weeks “making sure that every Republican vote was counted in a way that would result in the will of Pennsylvanian voters being fulfilled” after a recount was called with Oz leading by fewer than 1,000 votes.
“But it’s now clear to me, with the recount largely complete, that we have a nominee. And today I called Mehmet Oz to congratulate him on his victory,” he said. “And I told him what I always said to you — that I will do my part to try to unite Republicans and Pennsylvanians behind his candidacy, behind his nomination for the Senate.”
In a brief Twitter thread, Oz confirmed that McCormick had called him and said he was “tremendously grateful” for his support.
“Now that our primary is over, we will make sure that this U.S. Senate seat does not fall into the hands of the radical left, led by John Fetterman,” he wrote.
“I look forward to campaigning in every corner of the Commonwealth for the next five months to earn the support of every Pennsylvanian,” Oz added.
The surprise concession comes after Pennsylvania acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman last week ordered a recount in the race with Oz and McCormick divided by just 902 votes, or roughly 0.1 percentage points.
The recount was to be finished by June 7, and the results were to be released the following day. However, McCormick said he didn’t need to wait to see the final results.
The former hedge fund manager instead turned focus to the general election, in which Oz will be facing off against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who is currently recovering from a stroke, in one of the most pivotal Senate races this year.
“It is so important that we beat John Fetterman, and it’s so important for the country that we take back the Senate in 2022. So [Oz] has my full support,” he said.
Fetterman took the announcement as an opportunity to take a jab at Oz over his Pennsylvania residency.
“<checks notes> I ACTUALLY LIVE IN PENNSYLVANIA!!!” Fetterman tweeted with a photo of Oz posing next to his Walk of Fame star and referred to him as “New Jersey’s Dr. Oz.”
The show of unity marks a stark contrast to much of the campaign since the two candidates jumped into the field earlier this year.
McCormick and Oz swiftly became the two primary front-runners due largely to the massive amounts of their own money they dumped into boosting their candidacies.
McCormick, who is from Pennsylvania but lived in Connecticut until recently, made Oz’s ties to Turkey and thin connection to the Keystone State a prominent attack line, while Oz responded by hammering McCormick’s ties to Wall Street and his old hedge fund’s links to China.
The personal back-and-forth became so bitter that it opened up a lane for conservative commentator Kathy Barnette to surge in the late stages of the primary, though she ultimately came in third place.
The development marks a major win for former President Trump, who offered his endorsement to Oz in a surprise announcement in April. Trump after the primary urged the celebrity doctor to say he had won despite the fact that votes were still being counted at the time.
Oz’s win is only more significant for Trump given the recent hits the former president’s brand took during the May primaries, with his chosen candidates in the Georgia and Nebraska GOP gubernatorial primaries as well as some House primaries falling short.
The race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is anticipated to be among the most expensive and heavily fought of the entire cycle, and both parties immediately began ramping up their general election messaging.
Republicans began falling in line behind Oz following McCormick’s announcement, with the Senate Leadership Fund, the Senate GOP’s top super PAC, touting his presence on television as a longtime talk show host — and reminding journalists in a press release of its previous reservation of $24 million in Pennsylvania advertising time beginning this fall.
“Dr. Oz became a household name because families across America trust his empathetic approach to their health. Now entering a new arena, Oz is bringing that same bedside manner to earn the vote of Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth,” said Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law. “It’s why Dr. Oz will make an excellent U.S. Senator, and we will be there every step of the way making that case to the voters of Pennsylvania.”
Democrats, for their part, seized on McCormick’s concession, tying Oz to Trump and highlighting past claims that the doctor has pushed questionable diet supplements and other remedies.
“Mehmet Oz is a fraud and a scam artist who will do, say and sell anything to help himself — no matter who gets hurt. He’s been called out as ‘a quack and a fake and a charlatan’ whose bogus claims ‘endanger patients.’ He is a different, more dangerous kind of Republican: he wants to make abortion illegal and has pushed Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Patrick Burgwinkle.
“A self-serving millionaire with no real connection to the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania voters will send him back to Hollywood in November.”
Meanwhile, Fetterman is continuing to recover from a stroke he suffered last month and said in a statement released earlier on Friday that he “almost died.” He also disclosed a previous heart condition in 2017, all this with just months left before the November general election.
Brandon Conradis contributed.
Updated at 10:45 p.m.