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How Jeff Roe Won the Pa. Primary

Roe and Youngkin
Roe advises Youngkin ahead of his Virginia gubernatorial win. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
June 1, 2022

If you’re watching the Pennsylvania Senate G.O.P. primary and are prone to nail-biting, you might want to avoid the recount battle taking place during the next few days. While celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz has quietly started branding himself as the “presumptive nominee,” his rival, former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick, has refused to give up. Two weeks into the official recount—required by state law if the margin between the top two contenders is less than 0.5 percent—McCormick has been incrementally closing the gap between himself and Oz. As of Wednesday afternoon, there is a paper-thin 0.02 percent gap between the two in a race in which roughly 1.3 million ballots were cast.

Whatever happens next, there’s no question that McCormick overperformed. “I know nobody probably wants to hear this right now, but it’s pretty impressive he went from zero percent name recognition to almost tied with the guy Trump endorsed and attacked him for,” a source close to the McCormick campaign pointed out. Indeed, despite Trump throwing his weight behind Oz, insulting McCormick and his allies, and holding his fire against Kathy Barnette, the third-place “ultra-MAGA” longshot who nearly stole the race, McCormick masterfully utilized Jeff Roe’s playbook—walking the line between blazing Trumpiness and establishment-friendly country club Republicanism—to come within millimeters of victory. And he may yet win.