HARRISBURG, Pa. — Famed heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick began staffing their campaigns with recount specialists on Friday as the vote count entered a fourth day of the Pennsylvania Republican primary. for an open seat in the US Senate.

Both campaigns hired Washington-based attorneys to lead their recount efforts, and both hired Philadelphia-based campaign strategists who helped lead the operation to observe the Election Day vote count for the campaign. President Donald Trump in 2020.

Both campaigns already had dozens of lawyers and volunteers deployed around the presidential battleground state as election workers and election commissions worked through the remaining ballots.

A recount would mean the outcome of the race may not be known until June 8, the deadline for counties to report their results to the state.

With thousands of ballots remaining to be counted, Oz, which was endorsed by Trump, edged out McCormick by 1,092 votes, or 0.08 percentage points, out of 1,338,399 ballots counted as of noon Friday. The race remained close enough to trigger Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the split between the candidates inside the law’s 0.5% margin.

The hard-fought primary for the Republican nomination to fill incumbent GOP Senator Pat Toomey’s seat is expected to be among the nation’s best races in November’s general election. The winner of the primary will face Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who won the Democratic nomination just days after suffering a stroke. He said doctors expected him to make a full recovery and he remained in hospital on Friday.

County election commissions began meeting on Friday to sort through problematic or provisional ballots, while election officials went through thousands of outstanding mail-in ballots. In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, that included uncounted counts on Election Day.

The Pennsylvania State Department, which oversees the election, said there were nearly 28,000 mail-in and absentee ballots — 8,300 in the Republican primary — left to count, based on information it had. counties at noon Friday.

Even before a recount begins, there could be a flurry of lawsuits challenging decisions by some counties on whether to count ballots that may be difficult to read or contain some sort of irregularity.

So far neither campaign has gone to court and both candidates have expressed confidence in their victory.

A recount could change the original result: A recount of a statewide court contest last November ended up increasing the winning margin by more than 5,500 votes in a race where more than 2 million ballots were cast. have been filed.

Statewide, McCormick did better than Oz among mail-in ballots, while Oz did better among votes cast on Election Day. Counties must also still count provisional, foreign and military absentee ballots before certifying their results to the state by next Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

The Republican turnout topped 38%, the highest midterm primary in at least two decades, boosted by more than $70 million in advertising and other spending in the Senate GOP campaign.

Oz was helped by Trump’s endorsement, while a McCormick-supporting super PAC weighed heavily, spending around $20 million, much of it attacking Oz.

The pair also spent millions on the campaign and fought accusations of being rug baggers – Oz left a northern New Jersey mansion overlooking Manhattan to run, while McCormick left the luxurious Gold Coast of Connecticut.

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Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/timelywriter.

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This story has been corrected to show that more than 2 million ballots were cast in the November court contest, not 5.1 million ballots.

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Follow AP for full midterm election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ap—politics.