Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick abandoned the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania to famous heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz on Friday night, acknowledging that a statewide recount would not provide him with plenty of votes to make up the shortfall.
After a divisive race that saw millions of dollars spent on attack advertising, McCormick made a gracious submission, promising to help the party unite behind Oz.
“With the recount essentially completed, it’s now evident to me that we have a nominee,” McCormick said at a campaign party in a Pittsburgh hotel. “I also called Mehmet Oz today to congratulate him on his win.”
With McCormick’s concession, Oz, who was supported by former President Donald Trump, will face Democrat John Fetterman in what is considered to be one of the country’s most competitive Senate races.
In a presidential battleground state still stirred up by Trump’s false accusations of a rigged election in 2020, the national parties are already airing attack commercials on television.
The outcome could decide which party controls the chamber, and Democrats see it as their best chance to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is departing after two terms.
Republicans had started to consider a contentious primary that would be prolonged by a recounting and lawsuits over mail-in votes more than two weeks before the primary race.
Pat Poprik, the GOP chair in densely populated Bucks County, where state party members of the committee had supported McCormick, said, “I think it’ll be OK, I think there will be no problems.” “Many individuals I know liked both contenders, believed they were both good, had to choose between them at the last moment.”
Oz expressed his gratitude for McCormick’s cooperation in a statement.
Prior to the recounting, Oz had a 972-vote lead over McCormick in the May 17 primary, out of a total of 1.34 million votes cast. Since an automatic recounting is taking place and the difference between the two candidates is only 0.07 percentage points, the Associated Press has not proclaimed a winner in the contest.
Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, admitted earlier Friday in a declaration that he nearly died days before the primary when he suffered a heart attack. He claimed he disregarded warning indications and a doctor’s recommendation to take blood thinners for years.
Oz had to battle a storm of attack commercials and doubts among hard-line Trump supporters about his conservative credibility on firearms, abortion, transgender rights, as well as other basic Republican issues. He is best known as the host of daytime TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Oz, 61, used Trump’s support as proof of his conservative credentials, while Trump criticized Oz’s opponents and said that Oz has the best shot at winning the presidential battleground state in November.
Oz had no prior ties to the Republican Party, but he had a nearly 20-year connection with Trump, who informed him in a 2016 appearance on Oz’s show, “you understand my wife’s a big fan of your show.”
However, McCormick raised the subject of Oz’s dual citizenship in Turkey during the campaign, implying that he would be a national security concern. Oz would be the country’s first Muslim senator if elected.
Oz, who was born in the United States, fought in the Turkish military and voted in the country’s 2018 election. Oz stated that if he wins the November election, he will resign his Turkish nationality, and he accused McCormick of using “bigoted” remarks.
For months, Oz and McCormick flooded the state’s airwaves with political advertising, going to spend millions of their own money. McCormick had to present himself to voters four months ago, and he used Oz’s extensive history as a public figure as fodder for attacking commercials. He received assistance from a super PAC of $20 million that backed him.
Oz, like McCormick, went to Pennsylvania from another state to run.
Oz, a Harvard graduate, New York Times bestseller author, and self-styled wellness champion has been accused of being a carpetbagger and political tourist for living in a house in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, above the Hudson River facing Manhattan for the previous two decades. The star heart surgeon emphasized his ties to Pennsylvania, claiming that he grew raised in Delaware, attended medical school in Philadelphia, and married a Pennsylvania native.
McCormick was a Wall Street superstar when he decided to run for president, as the head of the nation’s biggest hedge fund, and he had strong Republican Party mainstream links dating back to his time in former President George W. Bush’s government. Dina Powell, his wife, was Trump’s deputy national security adviser and has extensive political ties.
McCormick had long explored running for office and had relocated from his posh Gold Coast home to a residence in Pittsburgh before announcing his campaign.
He emphasized his ties to Pennsylvania, citing his experiences growing up on a farm and competing in high school wrestling and football before attending West Point and serving in the Gulf War. He also spent ten years in business in Pittsburgh, making him a better claim to the state than Oz.
McCormick, like Oz, had tried hard to secure Trump’s support, and he insisted he was the genuine “America First” candidate, referring to Trump’s governing ideology.
In the final two weeks of the campaign, Trump constantly criticized McCormick, hosting a rally for Oz in which he labeled McCormick the “candidate of special interests, globalists, and the Washington elite.”