As the sun set in Western Pennsylvania and returns began to post on primary night, voters not just across PA but across the country hoped to learn the result of the nation’s most expensive Senate primary. More than $55 million was spent, mostly on bitter attack ads exchanged between the two front runners in the race: Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.
But as the sun rose Wednesday, clarity had not emerged in a race that many have looked to as a bellwether for the power of a Trump endorsement. Oz and McCormick remain locked in a race that’s too close to call and, ironically, it appears the final resolution will depend on counting tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.
Yes, a Republican primary between 3 candidates who won’t even say out loud that the party should move on from the 2020 election–let alone admit that it wasn’t stolen and that Biden is the rightful President–-will now likely be determined by the same mail in balloting that Trump and his surrogates said was rife with fraud in 2020, a lie they repeated again and again and again.
What’s more, after Oz spent the majority of Tuesday night trialing in early returns, he edged ahead by about 2,500 votes, or 0.2 percent, following a late night “dump” of ballots from Philadelphia. Eerily similar to the way Biden edged ahead late on election night 2020, as mail-ballots were counted, a change in fortunes that Trump referred to again and again (and literally continues to refer to to this day) as evidence of mass fraud being perpetrated against him. Notably, no one in the Trump or Oz camps considered such vote-tally-movement to be fraud this time around.
In fact, rather than pretend these later results were fraudulent, Trump is advising Oz to take a page from his own playbook and declare victory while he appears to be ahead, despite that Oz knows full well there are many more legitimate ballots to be counted. As discussed in this piece from Politico, Trump’s advice for Oz at this stage in the counting process: “Dr. Oz should declare victory. It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.’”