Even with a recount in progress, the former hedge fund CEO David McCormick knew he wasn’t going to muster enough votes to pass the celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Oz in the US Senate primary.
Realizing the ongoing statewide recount wouldn’t give him enough votes to pull ahead in Pennsylvania’s Republican primary for US Senate, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick conceded the race to celebrity surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz on Friday.
“It’s now clear to me with the recount largely complete that we have a nominee,” McCormick said at a campaign party at a Pittsburgh hotel. “And today I called Mehmet Oz to congratulate him on his victory.”
The initial tally following the May 17 primary had Oz ahead by 922 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast, which triggered the recount.
McCormick’s concession cements a general election campaign between Oz, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Democrat John Fetterman in what is expected to be one of the nation’s premier Senate contests.
In a statement, Oz acknowledged McCormick’s pledge of support, and said his focus is now on defeating Fetterman.
“I received a gracious phone call from David McCormick and am tremendously grateful for his pledge of support in the fall election,” Oz said. “We share the goal of a brighter future for Pennsylvania and America. Now that our primary is over, we will make sure that this US Senate seat does not fall into the hands of the radical left, led by John Fetterman. I look forward to campaigning in every corner of the Commonwealth for the next five months to earn the support of every Pennsylvanian.”
Oz has yet to receive an official endorsement from any of his rivals in the Senate race, though former candidate Jeff Bartos Tweeted his support following McCormick’s concession.
Oz, who is best known as the host of daytime TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show,” had to overcome a barrage of attack ads and misgivings among hard-line Trump backers about his conservative credentials on guns, abortion, transgender rights and other core Republican issues.
While campaigning for Oz at a rally in Western Pennsylvania just before the primary, Trump was the clear headline attraction, while Oz was greeted with muted enthusiasm at best.
The 61-year-old Oz leaned on Trump’s endorsement as proof of his conservative bona fides, while Trump attacked Oz’s rivals and maintained that Oz has the best chance of winning in November in the presidential battleground state.
Oz had had little history with the Republican Party — but he had a friendship with Trump going back almost 20 years and, as Trump told him in a 2016 appearance on Oz’s show, “you know my wife’s a big fan of your show.”
Meanwhile, McCormick made Oz’s dual citizenship in Turkey an issue in the race, suggesting that Oz would be a national security risk. If elected, Oz would be the nation’s first Muslim senator.
Born in the United States, Oz served in Turkey’s military and voted in its 2018 election. Oz said he would renounce his Turkish citizenship if he won the November election, and he accused McCormick of making “bigoted” attacks.
Oz and McCormick blanketed the state’s airwaves with political ads for months, spending millions of their own money. Virtually unknown to voters four months ago, McCormick had to introduce himself to voters, and he mined Oz’s long record as a public figure for material in attack ads. He got help from a super PAC supporting him that spent $20 million.
Like McCormick, Oz moved from out of state to run in Pennsylvania.
Oz, a Harvard graduate, New York Times bestselling author and self-styled wellness advocate, lived for the past couple of decades in a mansion in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, above the Hudson River overlooking Manhattan — drawing accusations of being a carpetbagger and political tourist.
The celebrity heart surgeon stressed his connections to Pennsylvania, saying he grew up just over the state border in Delaware, went to medical school in Philadelphia and married a Pennsylvania native.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.