Pennsylvania’s high-profile Republican Senate primary was too close for anyone to call early Wednesday as Trump-backed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz held a razor-thin lead with 95 percent of the results reported.
Although the television personality had the support of former President Donald Trump, he was rejected by a large swath of Trump’s base, creating an opening for Republican Kathy Barnette.
Her campaign appeared to be picking up steam as Tuesday’s election approached, but Barnette appeared to be settling in as a third-place finisher when the results came in.
Vote totals as reported by The New York Times on Wednesday morning showed Oz with 411,872 votes, or 31.3 percent of the total.
That was a lead of fewer than 2,600 votes over Dave McCormick, whose 409,308 votes totaled 31.1 percent of all votes cast in the GOP primary. McCormick worked in the administration of President George W. Bush and was CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund.
Barnette, a firebrand conservative author and commentator, polled 325,835 votes, which amounted to 24.8 percent.
The future of the GOP will be decided today.
I choose America First over globalism.
I choose freedom over tyranny.
I choose those who love our nation over those who wish to sell it out.
I choose prosperity over socialism.
Today, choose this campaign.
We win together!
— Kathy Barnette (@Kathy4Truth) May 17, 2022
But this one might not be over for a while.
In addition to a final tally of the votes and the standard recount when a race is this close, the Republican contest was marred by a ballot printing error, according to The Associated Press.
The vendor hired to print ballots for Lancaster County fouled up the ID code, which meant scanners could not accurately read them.
Of the 21,000 ballots impacted, only about a third could be scanned.
That means a hand count of ballots will take place in the state that was roiled for months over allegations of voting irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.
“Citizens deserve to have accurate results from elections and they deserve to have them on election night, not days later,” said Josh Parsons, a Republican and vice chairman of the county board of commissioners.
“But because of this, we’re not going to have final election results from these mail ballots for probably several days, so that is very, very frustrating to us,” he said.
The margin between the two top candidates is likely to trigger an automatic recount under state rules, which means that counting, recounting and checking could go until June.
In Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, turnout was so high that some polling places ran low on ballots, the AP reported.
County spokeswoman Amie Downs said she could not confirm reports that some voters were turned away.
Allegheny County Councilman Sam DeMarco, who is an election commissioner and county GOP chairman, said the incident adds to concerns over voting integrity.
“It’s just giving them more reason to doubt the integrity of the election, and they can feel that things are against them,” DeMarco said.
The winner of the GOP Senate primary will face current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in November. Fetterman easily won Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
The Senate seat is vacant because of the retirement of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
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