Republican primary for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat likely headed to recount

Seven candidates ran in the Republican primary election for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania on May 17, 2022. Senator Pat Toomey (R) did not run for re-election. 

As of 8:00 a.m. EDT on May 18, 2022, the race remained too close to call. Based on unofficial returns with 95% of precincts reporting, Mehmet Oz led with 31.2% of the vote, while David McCormick received 31.1%, and Kathy Barnette received 24.8%. Under state law, any vote margin within 0.5% would be subject to an automatic recount. An automatic recount in this race must be ordered by May 26, begin by June 1, and be completed by June 7. 

Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Oz in April. On May 12, Trump issued a statement opposing Barnette. “Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats. She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted,” he said. In response to Trump’s statement, Barnette said, “It sounds like the president knows what’s going to happen on next Tuesday . . . We now have the opportunity where the people are making their voices heard on what kind of leadership they want — and they don’t want to be spoon-fed two globalists, as many influencers within the Republican Party are trying to sell us, they want a real conservative.”

After serving in the United States Army Reserve, Barnette worked as a political commentator and in corporate finance. Barnette identified herself as an America First candidate, a term often associated with the platform of Trump and candidates who say they support Trump’s agenda. Barnette also campaigned on limiting her service in the U.S. Senate to two terms and a pledge that neither she nor her husband would own or trade individual stocks.

McCormick was the CEO of Bridgewater Associates, an investment management firm, from 2017 to January 2022. Before joining Bridgewater in 2009, he served as Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security and as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in the George W. Bush (R) administration. McCormick graduated from West Point and served in the United States Army during the Gulf War. McCormick’s campaign focused on economic issues and the relationship between the United States and China.

Oz is an author and former surgeon. He hosted The Dr. Oz Show from 2009 to January 2022 and appeared as a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oz received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and his medical and business degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Oz’s campaign portrayed him as a political outsider, with a campaign ad likening him to former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Trump, saying they each started in Hollywood before going to Washington to fight the establishment. Oz used his background in medicine to highlight disagreements with how the Biden administration handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time of the primary election, three independent race forecasters rated the general election either Toss-up or Tilt Republican. President Joe Biden (D) won the state by 1.2 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) won re-election by 13 percentage points in 2018. Toomey won re-election in 2016 by 1.5 percentage points.

Also running in the primary were Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto, Sean Gale, and Carla Sands.