David McCormick is predicting victory over Dr. Mehmet Oz in the race for the Republican nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania, even as party officials brace for a protracted ballot count, and recount, poised to stretch into June.

McCormick was trailing Oz by 0.1 percentage point nearly 48 hours after polls closed Tuesday evening. But the McCormick campaign was telling reporters victory was at hand, claiming confidently that election day and absentee ballots left to tally would vault the former hedge fund executive over Oz. The process is likely to take days, and Pennsylvania Republicans are expecting the final margin separating both candidates to trigger an automatic recount lasting several weeks.

“We feel quite confident that when every vote that’s been cast has been counted, Dave McCormick is going to be the nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania,” a senior official with the McCormick campaign said Thursday. Republican sources say the McCormick campaign is being just as declarative in private, and his supporters believe the Oz campaign’s relative silence over the past couple of days is telling.

The Oz campaign declined to comment at press time Thursday afternoon when offered the opportunity to rebut the McCormick campaign’s argument about how the final votes were likely to shake out. But later in the evening, the Oz campaign hastily organized a conference call with reporters to smack down the McCormick team's predictions.

"We’ve been tracking this a little differently than McCormick has. We’re confident Dr. Oz will win this race," the Oz campaign said, pointing to what it believes is an error in the McCormick campaign's modeling of uncounted Election Day and absentee ballots (the McCormick campaign is standing by its projections.)

Oz, a heart surgeon and famous television personality known as “Dr. Oz,” was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Pennsylvania law requires recounts for contests decided by less than 0.5% of the vote, although it could be avoided at the request of the losing candidate. With so much at stake — Oz, McCormick, and their donors have invested tens of millions of dollars in this primary — Republican officials and supporters of both candidates are assuming a statewide recount will proceed and are preparing for the legal and political skirmishes that often accompany such undertakings.


However, veteran Pennsylvania Republicans are forecasting a businesslike affair without the vitriol and recriminations that characterized the 2020 presidential election in their state.

Trump lost the commonwealth’s electoral votes to now-President Joe Biden. Even before media outlets declared Biden the winner there, the former president and his staunch supporters were claiming the tally was rife with fraud and illegitimate. Pennsylvania Republicans believe they might have been headed for a reenactment of the 2020 controversy if third-place Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, or GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, were involved.

Recount procedures are not uniform across all 67 counties. Still, with McCormick, Oz, and their teams of experienced Republican political professionals on opposing sides, Pennsylvania Republicans expect minimal drama.

“These guys are different than if this were Trump or Mastriano,” said Bob Gleason, a former state GOP chairman. “They have rabid followers who are angry at everything.” Meanwhile, Gleason bolstered the McCormick campaign’s bold prediction, explaining that Barnette’s insurgent candidacy deserved much of the credit. “Her surge, in the end, took votes from Oz. She’s probably going to take him down because I think that McCormick is going to win.”

The candidates and their campaigns might play it cool, but some tensions were flaring among the prominent Republicans supporting them.

On Thursday, Trump posted comments on Truth Social, the Twitter-like social media platform he founded, that echoed his unsupported claims that the 2020 election was stolen. “The Pennsylvania Oz race is ridiculous. How long does it take to count votes. France, same day all paper, had VERIFIED numbers in the evening. U.S. is a laughing stock on Elections. Stop FINDING VOTES PENNSYLVANIA! RIGGED?”

The previous day, Trump had urged Oz to declare victory to prevent fraud. “It just makes it harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find,’” the former president said.

Neither campaign nor any Republican official in Pennsylvania has remotely suggested that the outstanding mail-in and election day ballots are illegitimate, a fact emphasized by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a McCormick supporter and, like Trump, a potential 2024 presidential candidate. “Facts show that the counting of valid absentee ballots is likely to put [McCormick] on top in the PA Senate race,” Pompeo tweeted.

The McCormick campaign says its confidence is a byproduct of where in the state the remaining votes were cast and that most are mail-in votes and overseas votes cast by active-duty military. The senior McCormick campaign officials said their team invested nearly $1 million in a robust mail-in and absentee-vote program, including a targeted overseas military push, leading directly to an advantage over Oz with such ballots.


Indeed, the McCormick campaign is apparently so convinced of victory that senior adviser Jeff Roe has been tweeting that Oz’s defeat is all but certain.

“The brutal GOP Senate campaign continues,” said Jeffrey Brauer, a political science professor at Keystone College in Pennsylvania.