As the calendar flips to June and the country moves deeper into the primary season, it’s easy to forget about primaries that have already come and passed. But with a week to go before the next slate of states heads to the ballot to cast their votes, we thought we’d check in on the undecided Senate race in Pennsylvania, as well what’s shaping up to be one of the most important governor’s races of the year.
Just over 900 votes separated Mehmet Oz and David McCormick as Pennsylvania began its recount of the Republican Senate race over the weekend. And in court Tuesday morning, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania heard arguments in a McCormick filed lawsuit about whether to count a small but statistically not-insignificant number of mail-in ballots which were returned on time, but which state law would have election officials throw out due to a dating-technicality.
(The ballots in question were cast and delivered within the correct window, but were not secondarily dated, by hand, on the envelope, as required by PA law.)
Races within a 0.5% margin in PA trigger an automatic recount, and Pennsylvania law gives counties until June 7th to complete their recounts and noon the next day to report results. The AP is expected to announce the final tallies no later than the evening of June 8th.
The race between Oz and McCormick comes down to 922 votes out of nearly 1.3 million total votes cast among 7 candidates on the ballot, so whomever emerges, Oz or McCormick, will end up with only a plurality of the PA vote, around 31%. He’ll then move on to face Democrat John Fettermann in November’s general election. Fetterman decisively won Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary with nearly 60% of the vote.
Oz currently leads McCormick, and while recounts themselves are not rare, it is exceptionally rare to have them overturn a margin even as small as Oz’s current one. According to Reuters, “only three [recounts] in the last two decades have changed the result, and none for a presidential election.”
But rather than wait for the process to play out, Oz went ahead and preemptively declared victory in a video released Friday, perhaps bowing to pressure from former President Trump. Trump endorsed Oz, and has publicly urged him to take a page from his own election-fraud book and declare victory while the count shows him ahead.
Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth’s Governor’s race, Democrat Josh Shapiro kicked off his general election campaign with a small event in deeply red Cambria County, a rural county in southwestern PA that voted for Trump by a 37% margin in 2020. But according to reporting out of Erie, PA, Shapiro sees potential inroads in the old steelworking county that once voted reliably blue. Cambria, along with demographically similar mid-sized Pennsylvania counties, voted overwhelmingly for Barrack Obama over John McCain in 2008, and for decades before that was part of a Rustbelt coalition that registered Democrat over Republican at a 2:1 clip.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence that we’re going to do really well here in Cambria County,” Shapiro told supporters at the event on Thursday. “But I’ve got to put in the work. Our campaign has to put in the work, and it starts here tonight.”
Shapiro got the challenger he was hoping for in ultra-MAGA extremist Doug Mastriano, who was a primary figure in then-President Trump’s attempts at election-fraud in Pennsylvania. Mastriano not only attended the January 6th rally at the US Capitol, he funded busses to shuttle supporters to the event, is an avowed QAnon conspiracy believer, and has publicly stated that, if he becomes Governor, he intends to decertify voting machines in counties where he suspects fraud in future elections.