(WHTM) – Mehmet Oz is declaring victory in the Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate race despite heading into a recount with Dave McCormick.

In a video released on Friday, Oz thanked his supporters and said he is “blessed to have earned the presumptive Republican nomination for the United States Senate.”

Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz in the race, had called for Oz to “declare victory” despite the recount looming.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Oz leads McCormick by less than 1,000 votes with a recount set to start as early as this week.

On Tuesday McCormick tweeted he will “look forward to a swift resolution so our party can unite to defeat socialist (Democratic nominee) John Fetterman in the fall.”

An automatic recount was triggered between Oz and McCormick after the unofficial returns of the May 17 primary had them within 0.5% of each other. This is the seventh recount in Pennsylvania since 2004, the last in November 2021. None of those recounts changed the result of the election, according to Secretary of State Leigh Chapman.

Counties may begin their recount as early as Friday but must begin no later than June 1. They must complete the recount by noon on June 7, and they must submit the recount results to the Department of State by noon on June 8.   

If the recount is necessary, the timeline for a potential Oz/McCormick recount is as follows:

  • May 25: Recount ordered by the Department of State
  • May 27 – June 1: Recount may start May 27 and no later than June 1
  • June 7: Recount must be complete
  • June 8: Results reported to Department of State, winner of the party nomination announced

Both the Oz and McCormick campaigns have hired Washington-based lawyers to lead their recount efforts, and both have hired Philadelphia-based campaign strategists who helped lead the operation to observe vote-counting on Election Day for former President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2020.

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The two campaigns also already had dozens of lawyers and volunteers fanned out around the commonwealth as election workers and election boards toiled through the remaining ballots.

McCormick’s campaign filed a lawsuit which petitioned the State Supreme Court to require counties to promptly count mail-in ballots that lack a required handwritten date on the return envelope.

Oz, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has pressed counties not to count the undated ballots and the Republican National Committee said it would go to court to oppose McCormick.

The Department of State issued guidance to county boards of election that recommended counting the undated ballots that arrived before the election night deadline.

McCormick’s campaign has argued that not counting undated mail-in ballots violates the Pennsylvania constitution and the federal Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit filed in the State Supreme Court argues that dating the inside envelope “serves no purpose.”

“I’m willing to accept whatever the results will be as long as every vote is counted and that’s what I’ll be fighting for,” McCormick said to abc27’s Dennis Owens on Monday. “I’m confident if we count every Republican vote that’s gonna be beneficial to me and I will prevail.”

Oz denied repeated interview requests by abc27, but his campaign tweeted, in part, “Our campaign will oppose the McCormick team’s request that election boards ignore both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and state election law and accept legally rejected ballots.”

A separate case that affects the ballot counting could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ruling in a separate case late Friday, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the state election law’s requirement of a date next to the voter’s signature on the outside of return envelopes was “immaterial.” The lawsuit emerged from a county judicial election last year, and the three-judge panel said it found no reason to refuse counting the ballots in that race.

The ruling went against the position that Republicans in Pennsylvania have taken in courts repeatedly in the past to try to disqualify legal ballots cast on time by eligible voters for technicalities, such as lacking a handwritten date.

The law requires someone to write a date on the envelope in which they mail in their ballots. However, the envelope is postmarked by the post office and timestamped by counties when they receive it.

Meanwhile, commonwealth law gives no reason that a voter should date the envelope and does not explicitly require a county to throw it out should it lack a date.

Once the host of “The Dr. Oz Show” and attending physician at NY Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center, Oz announced his candidacy in December 2021.

The hard-fought primary for the Republican nomination to fill retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat is expected to be among the top races in the country in the November general election. The winner of the primary will face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who won the Democratic nomination just days after suffering a stroke.