Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz released a video on Friday in which the celebrity doctor calls himself the “presumptive Republican” nominee on the same day counties can begin recounting ballots in the commonwealth’s tight GOP primary.
Oz currently holds a roughly 900-vote lead over former hedge fund executive Dave McCormick in the contest for the Republican nomination. CNN has not made a projection in the race.
“I am blessed to have earned the presumptive Republican nomination for the United States Senate,” Oz says in the straight-to-camera video. “This was a tough campaign, I traveled everywhere. You guys were pretty honest sharing with me thoughts, worries you had, you don’t feel like you’re being heard.”
Oz goes on in the video to position himself more as a general election candidate, telling voters he is going to “reach to every corner of this commonwealth,” work with “anybody who’s got good ideas” and “bond together” to “solve all of our problems.”
Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Leigh Chapman announced on Wednesday that the margin between McCormick and Oz was within the 0.5% automatic recount threshold after all of Pennsylvania’s counties reported their unofficial results to the state on Tuesday.
McCormick, as the second-highest vote-getter, could have chosen to waive his right to a recount but decided not to.
Counties could begin the recount as early as Friday but must begin no later than June 1. Counties must finish counting by noon on June 7 and submit their results by noon on June 8. In the recount process, county boards of elections must count the ballots using a different device than the one used in the initial tabulation or the ballots can be counted by hand.
Oz’s decision to declare himself the presumptive Republican nominee follows the lead of his most high-profile supporter – former President Donald Trump – who took to his social media platform, Truth Social, the day after the May 17 election, with counting still underway, to urge Oz to “declare victory.”
“It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that ‘they just happened to find,’” Trump said, echoing his false claims about the 2020 presidential election without providing any evidence to support his contention.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in one of the nation’s marquee Senate races of this year’s midterm elections. Republicans view holding on to the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey as key to their hopes of capturing the Senate majority, while Democrats see flipping seats in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, both states carried by now-President Joe Biden in 2020, as the best way to gird against losses elsewhere.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.