(Bloomberg) -- A Pennsylvania primary campaign that became more dramatic in every day of the final stretch roars to an end Tuesday, concluding a three-way heat in the Republican US Senate race where the victor will likely face a Democrat recovering from a stroke.
For months, the GOP race for an open US Senate seat was between Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician, and former Bridgewater Associates Chief Executive Officer David McCormick, who with their allies had spent more than $54 million on ads -- a record for a Senate primary in the commonwealth. But commentator Kathy Barnette upended the campaign with a late surge to make it a statistical tie in two polls released days before the primary.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary will likely face John Fetterman, the Keystone State’s 6-foot-8, gym shorts-wearing, Democratic lieutenant governor, who announced on Sunday he was hospitalized for a stroke but was recovering.
There are also primaries Tuesday in North Carolina, Idaho, Kentucky and Oregon. The highest-profile of the races in those states is 26-year-old US Representative Madison Cawthorn’s bid for re-election in North Carolina. After a number of legal and political entanglements, the youngest member of Congress has lost the backing of the GOP in his state, but gained that of former President Donald Trump in a multi-candidate primary.
On Tuesday afternoon, Fetterman’s campaign said that he was getting a pacemaker with a defibrillator implanted. He said he cast his vote from Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital using an emergency absentee ballot.
Fetterman holds a commanding lead in polls over his nearest rival, US Representative Conor Lamb, once considered a rising star in the party for his 2018 win in a district that voted Republican in the previous election. Lamb has complained about voters having “very little information” about Fetterman’s health.
In Pennsylvania’s governor’s race, Trump has endorsed state Senator Doug Mastriano, a staunch supporter of his false 2020 election claims, in a crowded Republican primary for the open seat.
Democrat Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, is running unopposed in the primary. Shapiro announced on Tuesday that he tested positive for Covid-19.
The Republican Senate race is also another test of Trump’s grip on the GOP and whether his base voters follow his endorsements as he seeks to elect loyal candidates and teases another White House bid in 2024. Trump endorsed Oz in the primary.
Earlier this month, the former president scored a victory in neighboring Ohio when his endorsement helped JD Vance come from behind to win the Republican primary for an open US Senate seat. But Trump’s imprimatur hasn’t given Oz the same boost, and he’s struggled to separate from McCormick and a rising Barnette.
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