Pennsylvania GOP stays out of primary fray

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The Pennsylvania Republican Party on Saturday declined to endorse any candidate for the state’s races for Senate, governor and lieutenant governor amid a tight Senate primary.

Party members voted down offering an endorsement of any candidate for statewide office in a voice vote during a winter meeting in Lancaster, Pa., The Associated Press reported.

The decision, which was expected, comes as no single candidate has yet risen to the top of the Senate race’s GOP primary field. However, businessman David McCormick and former lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos have emerged as top contenders, while Mehmet Oz is looking to to capitalize on his celebrity status.

“It leaves the field very wide open,” veteran Pennsylvania GOP strategist Chris Nicholas told The Hill this week of the prospect of no Republican securing an endorsement from the state party. “With no endorsement, it’ll be kind of a free-for-all.” 

Last weekend, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party also declined to endorse a candidate in the race for the Senate seat as Rep. Conor Lamb and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman face off as the two current front-runners in the Democratic primary.

In the Republican field, Bartos notched a string of victories in the caucuses, though he had lagged in polling and in finances behind the extremely wealthy Oz and McCormick. McCormick has also performed well in caucuses for a candidate who only formally entered the race last month.

Oz, a Turkish-American TV personality and cardiothoracic surgeon, has struggled in the straw polls, but is confident his celebrity status could net him a primary win.

Dr. Oz is a conservative outsider, drawing large crowds and excitement everywhere he goes,” said Brittany Yanick, the campaign’s communications director, to The Hill this week. “We respect the State Party process, but there’s energy and grassroots enthusiasm for Dr. Oz that’s unmatched right now in the Republican primary.”

The primary is set for May 17.

Tags 2022 midterm election David McCormick Dr. Oz Jeff Bartos Lancaster Mehmet Oz Pennsylvania Pennsylvania GOP party Pennsylvania Senate race

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