In the undecided and highly contentious GOP primary for the Pennsylvania Senate, President Trump’s patience is spilling over his eagerness to see his endorsement win. On Wednesday, he called his endorsed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz to declare victory while votes are still being counted.
The counting of votes continues two days after the Election Day. Dr. Oz and David McCormick are running neck-to-neck in this race with Oz keeping a razor-thin lead of only about 1100 votes over McCormick at the time of this writing. Oz’s lead amounts to less than 0.1 percent and by the state’s election law, an automatic recount kicks in if the victory of a candidate is within 0.5% margin.
While people are waiting for the final count, Trump cannot and has asked Oz to claim victory without any regard for the narrow lead that can officially change any day. Breitbart included Trump’s post on his Truth Social site, which reads:
Dr. Oz should declare victory. It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find.’
As the story noted, Trump is clearly concerned that McCormick may well overcome the thin lead anytime. McCormick’s consultant reportedly wrote on social media that they are confident McCormick will win, claiming that he is receiving a greater percentage of absentee ballots than Oz. So why is Trump impatient and does an early claim of victory serve him politically in the midterm?
For both Oz and Trump, a premature declaration of victory can prove risky politics. Trump seems to be essentially replaying 2020. If Oz loses the race despite claiming victory based on his current lead, he can call the late ballot arrivals foul play and try to move the election authorities and state legislature to investigate for possible election fraud. In case of the 2020 voter fraud controversy, it was the legislative hearings and independent investigators that presented a good deal of evidence to support their claims. Will Oz’s team be able to present evidence to back voter fraud claims if they choose to go that route?
The second and more important question that Trump’s push for Oz’s declaration of victory relates to the internal conflict among conservatives. When Trump endorsed Oz, he saw a massive disapproval of his pick for this seat since Oz is not a reliable conservative, but in a number of ways, quite the opposite. On the other hand, McCormick has been endorsed by solid conservatives like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Elise Stefanik, and others. Accusing fellow conservatives of voter fraud can deepen the political divide within GOP and may impact the midterm endorsements of Trump. Given Trump’s grip over the conservative vote bank, one can understand that he wants to maintain the maximum victory score in his endorsements. What he needs to bear in mind is that a divided GOP is not a good sign for him nor for the conservative political fight in general.