The Republican National Committee joined Pennsylvania’s Republican Party this week in a legal effort to effectively help Mehmet Oz sew up last Tuesday’s Senate primary election battle against rival Dave McCormick.
As of Tuesday afternoon, McCormick is 982 votes behind the celebrity surgeon, though vote counting hasn’t concluded. Tuesday marked the final day that absentee military ballots could arrive at their respective counties and still get counted. What impact those final military votes will have on the race remains to be seen, though it bears observing that McCormick himself served in the U.S. Army and noted that fact well throughout his campaign.
Once those votes get tallied, it’s all but certain that the contest will be sufficiently close – within 0.5 percent – to trigger a recount, a process that does not frequently change an election outcome. But McCormick is banking on a recent court decision turning the status of the primary in his favor.
On Friday, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Migliori et al v. Lehigh County Board of Elections that Lehigh County must count 257 mail-in ballots that Republicans in that county want to be excluded. Those vote sheets came back to the county elections office in envelopes onto which voters neglected to write the date. If those ballots are counted, they will render Democrat Zachary Cohen the winner of a Court of Common Pleas election rather than Republican David Ritter.
In January, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Commonwealth Court ruled that undated absentee ballots could not count according to state election law. The state’s Democrat-controlled supreme court upheld the lower court’s ruling later that month.
Now, McCormick is bucking his party’s position against counting undated mail-in ballots, suing for the inclusion of potentially thousands of such votes in his party’s Senate nomination contest in hopes that they will edge him over the top.
The federal and state Republican Parties are opposing McCormick’s litigation.
“The RNC is intervening in this lawsuit alongside the Pennsylvania GOP because election laws are meant to be followed, and changing the rules when ballots are already being counted harms the integrity of our elections,” the RNC said in a statement. “Either of Pennsylvania’s leading Republican Senate candidates would represent the Keystone State better than a Democrat, but Pennsylvania law is clear that undated absentee ballots may not be counted. This is another example of the RNC’s ironclad commitment to ensuring that the highest standards of transparency and security are upheld throughout the election process.”
McCormick maintains that there is no sense in discounting the undated ballots insofar as their envelopes all bore a time-stamp irrespective of voters’ failure to date them.
“We have a lawsuit to require [Pennsylvania’s 67 counties] to count Republican ballots that were cast and received prior to Election Day,” the candidate told a supportive Kurt Schlichter, who was guest hosting Hugh Hewitt’s radio program on Tuesday. “They’ve all been time-stamped by the county boards of elections and these are legitimate votes where the voter didn’t handwrite the date on them but, again, they were time-stamped. So, since they were time-stamped, why would anyone want to throw those votes out?”
McCormick went on to point out that no one knows what effect those heretofore uncounted ballots will have on the primary result, though he noted that he has led Oz in the roughly 140,000 absentee votes that have come in so far.
“I said this before the election: I would support whoever the nominee is,” McCormick said. “This is not about me or any individual person. This is about the country. This is about getting a Republican nominee that can beat [Democratic nominee and Lt. Gov.] John Fetterman and make sure that the Senate flips back to Republican.”
While Oz, if victorious in the primary, will have McCormick’s support, he won’t be able to say the same of Kathy Barnette. Both Oz and McCormick handily bested Barnette on May 17. The third-place finisher told Breitbart the day before that she has “no intentions of supporting globalists,” referring to her opponents.
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