Topline

Votes are still being counted in Pennsylvania’s hotly contested GOP Senate primary, but former President Donald Trump is already shaping a narrative that the sluggish pace is because of a behind-the-scenes conspiracy to rob his preferred candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz, of a win, returning to a strategy of lies he used following the 2020 election after a shaky election night for his endorsement record.

Key Facts

Trump lamented the slow pace of vote counting in a series of statements Wednesday morning on his Truth Social platform, saying: “Dr. Oz should declare victory. It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.'”

Oz said Tuesday night it was clear neither campaign would be able to assert victory as votes were still being counted-he made no claims of voter fraud.

As of 1:30 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, Oz led former hedge fund CEO David McCormick 31.3% to 31.1%, with about 2,400 votes separating the two and more than 95% of the estimated vote total counted.

Most of the remaining uncounted votes are from mail-in ballots, which have generally favored McCormick thus far in the vote tally.

If the final margin of victory for the winning candidate is 0.5% or closer, it will trigger an automatic recount under Pennsylvania election law.

The winner takes on Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) in November’s general election.

What To Watch For

Many of the outstanding ballots are in Lancaster County, where election officials said Tuesday night a printing issue prevented 22,000 mail-in ballots from being scanned. A team of volunteers has been working to correct a code on the ballots to allow them to be counted, but about 13,000 mail-in votes remained unrecorded as of 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to WGAL-TV. Election officials reportedly believe it could take until Friday to count the remaining ballots. Right-wing firebrand Kathy Barnette won the election day vote in Lancaster County, with about 31.3% of ballots, followed by McCormick at 27.1% and Oz at 26.7%.

Key Background

Many political observers considered Tuesday’s Pennsylvania GOP Senate election to be the marquee contest in the busiest day of the midterm primary season. Stakes were especially high for Trump, who wanted to reassert his status as a GOP kingmaker with strong performances from his endorsed candidates. Trump claimed Wednesday his candidates had a “spectacular evening of voting & winning,” but the most high-profile races of the night delivered mixed results for the former president. Trump-endorsed candidates cruised to victory in the North Carolina GOP Senate primary and Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial primary, though his pick in the Idaho Republican gubernatorial primary lost. But the most shocking result of the night came from North Carolina, where scandal-plagued, Trump-backed Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) lost to state Sen. Chuck Edwards in a GOP House primary. Trump was one of the few prominent Republicans that remained a vocal backer of Cawthorn amid the controversies, which made Cawthorn a pariah to Republican House leadership.

Tangent

Pennsylvania was one of several states where Trump mounted an unsuccessful effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, claiming widespread voter fraud robbed him of winning the state. It was one of five states Trump carried in 2016 that he lost in 2020.

Further Reading

Votes still being tallied in Lancaster County after mail-in ballot printing error (WGAL-TV)

Trump-Endorsed Doug Mastriano Wins GOP Primary For Pennsylvania Governor (Forbes)

John Fetterman Wins Democratic Nomination For Pennsylvania Senate Seat (Forbes)

A Time Line Of Madison Cawthorn’s Missteps–From Visiting Nazi Retreat To Wild Orgy Claims (Forbes)

Madison Cawthorn Loses GOP Primary Amid Controversies (Forbes)

Trump-Endorsed Ted Budd Wins North Carolina GOP Senate Primary (Forbes)

Trump Suddenly Hedges On Georgia Governor Pick As His Endorsement Powers Weaken (Forbes)

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