Dave McCormick’s Senate campaign — citing what it called several “abnormalities” — will seek hand recounts of selected precincts in 12 Pennsylvania counties as a broader state-mandated recount gets underway in his too-close-to-call Republican primary against celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz.
A senior campaign official who briefed reporters about the plans Tuesday afternoon offered several complaints, including what were described as inconsistencies between data shared by the counties and by the Pennsylvania State Department.
The campaign official, who requested anonymity to preview a legal challenge that had not yet been filed, added that the campaign also is unaware of how many outstanding mail-in, overseas and military ballots remained to be counted before the recount began.
“I can’t tell you today with full confidence — I can’t tell my client — how many votes we have,” the official said. “We’re doing a recount of a count that I actually don’t know the results of. … We have, essentially, two different sources of data, one being the counties, two being the Department of State, with completely different results.”
Officials with the State Department, which oversees elections, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman, operating under a state law that requires recounts for elections decided within 0.5 percent of the votes cast, ordered the statewide recount last week. At the time, Oz led McCormick by fewer than 1,000 votes.
McCormick’s campaign will request hand recounts in Allegheny, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Cumberland, Delaware, Erie, Lancaster, Monroe, Schuylkill, Westmoreland and York counties. For now the campaign will ask for hand recounts only in specific precincts, but it could eventually seek to expand the process countywide.
The campaign official said the targeted counties are “outlier areas” that have reported unusual numbers of undervotes among their ballots — votes that for whatever reason were not counted.
Meanwhile, McCormick’s bid to include mail-in ballots from voters who failed to fill in the date on their ballot envelopes hit a road bump at the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court put a hold on a lower federal court ruling that such ballots should be counted in a different disputed election for a state judgeship in Pennsylvania. McCormick’s legal team has tried to use the lower court’s ruling to argue that such ballots should be counted in his race.
Separately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied a request from McCormick to fast-track the issue of whether to count mail ballots that lack dates. The issue is pending in a lower state court. McCormick wanted the state Supreme Court to exercise its special jurisdiction, reach down and take the case away from the lower court. The high court decided instead to let the issue play out in the lower court.
Fewer than 950 votes separate Oz and McCormick, and there are at least 860 disputed mail ballots.
Pennsylvania’s state-mandated recount is scheduled to be completed by June 7. Oz, egged on by former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed him and has made debunked and unsubstantiated claims about the integrity of Pennsylvania’s elections, took an early victory lap in a video last week.
“I am blessed to have earned the presumptive Republican nomination for the United States Senate,” Oz, the TV personality and former surgeon, said in the video.
The eventual winner will face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who decisively won the Democratic nomination, in November.
Henry J. Gomez is a national politics reporter for NBC News.