Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz greets supporters after the primary race resulted in an automatic re-count due to close results on May 17, 2022 in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

Stephanie Keith | Getty Images

Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate primary race between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick will head to a recount, the state’s elections chief announced Wednesday.

Oz, a celebrity physician and first-time candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, led former hedge fund CEO McCormick in the final vote tally by less than half a percentage point, acting Secretary of of State Leigh Chapman’s office said.

That narrow margin triggered a mandatory recount under Pennsylvania law.

The recount is estimated to cost more than $1 million in taxpayer funds, Chapman’s office said. Pennsylvania counties must begin recounting ballots by no later than June 1, and they must finish their recounts by June 7 at noon ET.

The announcement came more than a week after the primary election. The Pennsylvania Department of State attributed the lag to the fact that the state’s laws do not permit “pre-canvassing” of ballots prior to Election Day. That means counties could only start counting mail ballots on the morning of the election, Chapman’s office explained last Tuesday.

Her office noted at the time that about 900,000 mail ballot applications were sent in for the primary.

The eventual winner of the Republican primary will compete in the general election against Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who was projected to win the state’s Democratic Senate primary by a wide margin.

The Senate race in the swing state could prove to be the most pivotal fight of the midterms. Democrats are trying to keep control of the Senate, which is evenly split between 50 Republicans and the 50 senators who caucus with Democrats.

The Pennsylvania seat, which is being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, may offer Democrats’ best chance to flip a red seat blue.

The cutthroat competition between Oz and McCormick continued as results in the Republican primary race trickled in.

McCormick on Monday filed a lawsuit in an effort to ensure that counties do not reject some mail-in ballots that arrived on time but did not have dates handwritten on the envelopes. The Republican Party has sided with Oz in opposing McCormick’s effort.

While votes were still being tallied, Trump wrote on social media that Oz “should declare victory,” claiming it “makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.’”

Trump tried to do that in the 2020 presidential election race, which he nevertheless lost to President Joe Biden. The former president falsely claimed that legitimately cast mail-in ballots, which many states counted more slowly than usual due to an influx during the coronavirus pandemic, were rife with fraud.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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