Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz can officially shift focus and resources to November after former hedge fund CEO David McCormick bowed out of Pennsylvania’s Senate Republican primary on Friday.
McCormick’s concession comes after he failed to close a nearly 1,000-vote gap, the race’s final development after weeks of a contentious contest that saw each candidate winning 31 percent of the vote and both campaigns projecting victory once all ballots were counted.
Though Oz had already declared himself the “presumptive Republican” nominee with the candidates locked in a recount, McCormick’s withdrawal from the race guarantees the Trump-endorsed Oz will face-off against Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman in November — a key race that will decide who replaces retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and could determine the control of a closely divided Senate.
Oz said he received a “gracious” call from McCormick earlier Friday and that he was grateful for his support in the midterms.
“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.”
McCormick’s speech similarly projected unity. He thanked his campaign team and voters who put their “trust” in him, and he talked about his commitment to making sure all Republican votes were counted.
“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, 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,” McCormick said. “It is so important for Pennsylvanians, so important that we beat John Fetterman.”
The Republican attacks against Fetterman have already begun. The Senate GOP’s campaign arm launched its first TV attack ad on Friday against the lieutenant governor, describing Fetterman as a Bernie Sanders ally who’s “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.”
The progressive Democratic nominee has built a devoted following in his state and is seen as a rising star in the party. When he beat out moderate Rep. Conor Lamb for the Democratic nomination May 17, he laid out the stakes ahead in November.
“This is the most important race in the country. Control of the Senate is going to come down to Pennsylvania, and we have to flip this seat. We have a hard fight ahead of us — but Pennsylvania is worth fighting for,” Fetterman said in a statement.
And it didn’t take long for Fetterman to start launching his own attacks. He posted a campaign donation link on Twitter Friday night, accompanied with a jab at Oz.
I ACTUALLY LIVE IN PENNSYLVANIA!!! Please consider rushing $10 to our campaign right now to help me beat New Jersey’s Dr. Oz in November,” the tweet said. Oz was a longtime resident of New Jersey, and voted there as recently as 2020. He has said he is now renting a home owned by his in-laws in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Fetterman revealed Friday that he had a previously undisclosed heart condition that led to the stroke last month that pulled him off the campaign trail. While Fetterman admits he ignored doctor’s warnings five years ago, his doctor said Friday he is “well compensated and stable” and “if he takes his medications, eats healthy, and exercises, he’ll be fine.” It’s not yet clear when he’ll return to the trail.
Landing former President Donald Trump’s endorsement was vital for Oz, though he still had to conquer doubts about his conservative bona fides among the party base. Trump levied attacks against Oz’s rivals, portrayed him as the best candidate to win in November, and pushed Oz to declare victory before a winner was determined.
McCormick, who previously was little known in politics, took advantage of Oz’s decades in the public spotlight, best known as the host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” when leveling attacks. He also took aim at Oz’s Turkish citizenship, a line of attack Senate Republicans called “unsavory.”
Oz was born in the U.S but served in Turkey’s military and voted in its 2018 election. He has said he would give up his dual citizenship if elected in November. If he’s victorious this fall, he would be the nation’s first Muslim senator.
The two candidates have battled it out for months, spending millions of their own money on television commercials. After the race was too close to call on election night and officials moved to a recount, the candidates fought over whether undated ballots should be counted.
The issue moved through state courts, and the Supreme Court could have resolved the dispute in the coming days, though there were doubts McCormick could make up the difference regardless of whether those ballots were tallied.
McCormick, standing beside his partner, Dina Powell McCormick, who served as Trump’s deputy national security adviser, joked that the good news was his wife would have more time with him now that he won’t be moving on to November.
“Now the bad news for the Democrats is they’re going to get a lot more of me, too,” he said.
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