The Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania, where former President Donald Trump's preferred candidate, Mehmet Oz, is locked in a dead heat with businessman Dave McCormick, remained too close to call into Wednesday, according to NBC News.
Voters in five states went to the polls Tuesday to decide the outcomes of some of the most closely watched primary elections of the 2022 midterms cycle, which tested Trump's influence and the GOP's rightward shift.
Two of Trump's preferred candidates fared well: Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., won his state's Republican Senate primary, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who rose to prominence by denying the results of the 2020 election, won the GOP primary in Pennsylvania's governor's race. But embattled first-term Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., who wasn't formally endorsed by Trump but remains a close ally, conceded defeat.
Read the latest updates below:
Pennsylvania says it's 'unlikely' final results will be known tonight
The Pennsylvania State Department said it's “unlikely that final results in all races will be available tonight."
"We know voters want results on Primary Election Night, but the priority must be to make sure every vote is accurately and securely counted," the agency said in a statement. "Ahead of the primary, more than 900,000 applications for mail-in and absentee ballots were requested. Pennsylvania election law does not permit pre-canvassing of ballots before Election Day — counties cannot begin counting mail ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day.
"We expect to have unofficial results within a few days," the statement continued. "Given the possibility of recounts and the need for official certifications, it is unlikely that final results in all races will be available tonight."
Some races have razor-thin margins, including the GOP Senate primary featuring Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick and the Democratic House primary in the 12th Congressional District between state Rep. Summer Lee and Steve Irwin.
'Trying to get to Florida crazy': Pennsylvania’s primaries astonish veteran operatives
The results in Pennsylvania’s primaries haven’t been certified, but the election has been certifiably wild.
The Democratic lieutenant governor and attorney general, respectively running for the Senate and governor, both missed their election night parties. The former, John Fetterman, had a pacemaker installed Tuesday morning, and the latter, Josh Shapiro, announced he had Covid about the same time.
On the Republican side, a far-right election conspiracy theorist who organized bus rides to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in 2021 cruised to a win in the primary in the governor's race.
Meanwhile, the only Black GOP candidate in the Senate race played defense over photos showing her marching with the far-right Proud Boys at the riot. Despite a late surge in the polls, Kathy Barnette lagged behind in the count early Wednesday, when Mehmet Oz, the celebrity TV doctor who was buoyed by an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, edged ahead. Trump's original Senate pick quit the race amid allegations of domestic abuse.
On the left and the right, veteran operatives watched the closing days of the primaries and found it hard to recall anything quite like it before there — or even in what used to be the king of wild statewide elections, Florida.
“It’s the most insane primary I have ever seen. I mean, honestly, I just wish I was part of it. I’ve done crazy elections in Pennsylvania and in Florida, but this is on another level,” said Republican consultant Chris Mottola, a Pennsylvania native who has seen his share of wild elections.
“The only thing that this primary lacked was somebody being fed to the lions. But it’s early,” he said. “This could go further, because the odds are good that there could be a recount. And that’s when they bring the lions.”
Chris Nicholas, a top Republican consultant in Pennsylvania, wondered where the election ended and where the satire begins. “It seems we’re living in a Monty Python skit here,” Nicholas said.
There’s bipartisan agreement on that point.
“It’s been nuts. I wish there was a more scientific word. But it’s just insane,” said Mustafa Rashed, a top Democratic consultant from Philadelphia.
"Every day news of the moment shocks out and washes out the news of the moment from just a few moments ago,” Rashed said, noting that he and another Democrat were comparing the weirdness of Pennsylvania to a ridiculous moment in Florida’s 2014 governor’s race, when then-Gov. Rick Scott initially refused to take the stage to debate Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist because Crist had a personal fan on stage to keep him cool, which broke the debate rules.
“Pennsylvania is trying to get to Florida crazy,” he said. “It’s a low bar. But we’re trying to get there.”
At Fetterman’s rally, his wife, Gisele Fetterman, also found time to make light of the situation. “I would like to take a moment to address the elephant in the room, which is that my husband, John Fetterman, is not in the room tonight,” she said.
The crowd burst into laughter.
Oz thanks Sean Hannity, Trump at election night party
Mehmet Oz, locked in a tight race with Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary, thanked Fox News host Sean Hannity at his election night party, during which he also suggested that voters might not know the winner for some time.
"I want to thank Sean Hannity," said Oz, who is backed by Hannity and former President Donald Trump. "He’s like a brother to me.”
He added that Hannity was of much help "behind the scenes."
Typically, members of the media do not coordinate on strategy with candidates, but Hannity is known for his close relationship with Trump.
Oz also offered Trump effusive thanks and told supporters to "get some rest, we got a lot to do."
“When all the votes are tallied, I am confident we will win," he said.
N.C. voters say Cawthorn favored fame over his district
Many Republican voters in Rep. Madison Cawthorn's district felt Cawthorn was an embarrassment — and, perhaps more important, that he sought national attention at the expense of doing his job at home — a sentiment repeated in interviews NBC News conducted in the district this month.
Cawthorn got off on the wrong track with many voters this cycle by initially choosing to run in a neighboring district before he decided to seek re-election in the 11th District, instead.
Why counting mail ballots takes a long time in Pennsylvania
While election results from in-person voting are rolling in across Pennsylvania, some mail ballots in the state aren’t likely to be counted for days. (NBC News hasn't projected a number of races, including the GOP Senate primary.)
Pennsylvania law prohibits election officials from beginning to process mail ballots until Election Day, a rule that some election workers say sets them up for delays.
Early processing of mail ballots often includes verifying the signatures on the outsides of ballots to ensure the ballots were cast by registered voters. Thirty-eight states allow some kind of processing — often called pre-canvassing — before Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania is one of nine states that allows such processing to begin only on Election Day.
And Pennsylvania voters cast a significant number of mail and early absentee ballots this year: According to the Pennsylvania State Department, election officials had around 900,000 mail or early ballots as of Monday night.
Some Pennsylvania counties don’t plan to start counting ballots until Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Lancaster County officials said they will need several days to count all their mail ballots because of a printing error that is forcing election workers to re-mark thousands of ballots.
Former President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that Pennsylvania’s slow counting was a sign of fraud in the 2020 election. Legislation to give election officials the ability to process ballots before Election Day failed last year, when Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed it over other election provisions, including a new voter ID requirement.
GOP governor, lieutenant governor nominees in Pa. appear at odds over Jan. 6
NBC News is projecting that Pennsylvania state Rep. Carrie Del Rosso, a Republican who flipped a Democratic-controlled district outside Pittsburgh in 2020, will win the nomination for lieutenant governor. But her place on the November ticket puts her in contrast with Pennsylvania’s GOP nominee for governor.
Del Rosso, who has condemned violence and lawbreaking at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, told NBC News in February she thought anger over Trump’s loss was dissipating.
Meanwhile, far-right state Sen. Doug Mastriano, NBC News' projected GOP nominee for governor, spent months championing the election denial movement and was at the Capitol on Jan 6. He says he left before the riot.
“I think that there are some people that are still mad that Trump lost,” Del Rosso said in February. "But I think that people are moving away from that. I can’t speak for everybody. I’ve been to rallies where people are so mad, they’re very mad. They actually yell and scream at me.”
She said then that the race was about building “a coalition” that “makes sure that we’re functioning as a state and we’re moving forward, not backward."
With Biden on sidelines, Lamb faced long odds in Pa. Senate primary
When President Joe Biden promoted his infrastructure law in Pittsburgh this year, he singled out two of its congressional champions in the audience that day, thanking “Senator Casey and Senator Lamb” of Pennsylvania.
It certainly wasn’t the first time the president had misspoken in acknowledging an audience member, but it was a conspicuous promotion to give Rep. Conor Lamb, particularly because he was seated just feet from his main rival in the Democratic Senate primary, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
“I hope you enjoyed that,” a Biden aide texted a Lamb adviser, sensing, like many others, that Biden had perhaps made a Freudian slip to reveal his partiality in a race in which his aides preferred he remain neutral.
But some close to Lamb later confessed their disappointment that Biden or others in his orbit didn’t offer more than a verbal gaffe to give the campaign a fighting chance, especially given the close history between Biden, 79, and Lamb, 37, a Marine veteran whom Biden had compared to his late eldest son, Beau, multiple times.
Cawthorn loses race, NBC News projects
Cawthorn has lost his primary race to state Sen. Chuck Edwards, NBC News projects.
Kathy Barnette thanks supporters as electoral chances dwindle
Kathy Barnette did not concede at her election night party, but she began thanking supporters as she trailed Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate primary.
Barnette said that "we have put up a good fight" and that she is "so grateful to the people that I have met throughout this commonwealth."
"I have friends that I know I will keep forever," she said. "Thank you so much for all of your hard work. I appreciate it so much. They haven’t called, and I’m not conceding — so don’t report it. I just want to take the time to just say thank you."
Barnette surged in late polling after having run much of the race in relative obscurity, but she was far behind McCormick and Oz by late Tuesday.
Democratic Governors Association says Mastriano's 'extremism' will make him unelectable
The Democratic Governors Association on Tuesday called Mastriano an "extremist running on a dangerous agenda that would devastate Pennsylvania families" after Mastriano, a far-right state senator, won the state's GOP gubernatorial primary.
The statement added, "While that extremism may have helped him in this crowded and nasty GOP primary, it will make him completely unelectable in the general election."
State Attorney General Democrat Josh Shapiro, who won the Democratic nomination for governor, aired an ad that brandishes Mastriano's conservative credentials, equating a Mastriano victory to a win "for what Donald Trump stands for."
Cawthorn called Edwards to concede in N.C.
Cawthorn has conceded in his GOP House primary, campaign spokesman Luke Ball told reporters at an event in Henderson.
Ball told reporters that Cawthorn had called his top challenger, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, to concede. NBC News has not yet projected a winner for the race.
Biden: Democrats are united around Fetterman
President Joe Biden said Tuesday night that electing Fetterman to the Senate “would be a big step forward for Pennsylvania’s working people.”
“As Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, John Fetterman understands that working class families in Pennsylvania and across the country have been dealt out for far too long,” Biden said in a statement, adding that it was “time to deal them back in.”
“Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November. And while we await the results of the GOP primary, one thing is clear — these candidates are not your father’s GOP,” Biden said. “They have fought a malicious, chaotic primary campaign to be the most extreme. And they have shown people their authentic selves — that whoever emerges will be too dangerous, too craven, and too extreme to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate.”
Cawthorn says race is 'very close' but he still expects 'to take a victory'
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., who is trailing state Sen. Chuck Edwards in a heated primary contest, delivered remarks amid what he called a "very close" race Tuesday night.
“It’s still to be decided, but my friends, I do believe we will take a victory,” Cawthorn said, adding that he didn’t believe he would face a runoff.
Asked to respond to a series of photos and videos circulating about him in recent weeks, Cawthorn was defiant.
“There's been a coordinated strike carried out," Cawthorn said, laying blame on the "old establishment wing" of the Republican Party, to boos. "I think the American people will see through that."
Doug Mastriano, leader of Pennsylvania’s far right, wins GOP race for governor
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a far-right Republican who built a large following seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Pennsylvania, is the GOP nominee for governor, NBC News projected Tuesday.
He’ll face Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general, who ran unopposed, in November.
Should Mastriano, who received former President Donald Trump’s last-minute backing Saturday, prevail in the general election, he would be able to appoint a secretary of state to oversee elections. He has pledged that his choice would “reset” the state’s voter rolls so everyone would “have to re-register.”
Pa. county adds an extra hour of voting after delays
Berks County, Pennsylvania, polls stayed open an additional hour Tuesday after issues with electronic poll books created delays throughout the county.
Lawyers from both the Democratic and the Republican parties requested extended voting hours Tuesday, county election officials said. Voters who got in line from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET will be able to cast provisional ballots in accordance with federal law, officials said on Facebook.
The order applied only to in-person voting and not to ballot drop boxes.
John Fetterman wins Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania
John Fetterman is the winner of the Democratic nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, NBC News projected Tuesday.
He will face the winner of a competitive Republican primary, the result of which is not yet known. The seat is being vacated by the retiring two-term GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
The contest is arguably Democrats’ best opportunity to pick up a Republican-held seat in what’s shaping up to be a grim political landscape for the party in power in the Nov. 8 general election.
Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, jumped in the race early and established himself as the front-runner, quickly raising huge sums of money and using his statewide name recognition to solidify his position. He is projected to defeat Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, according to NBC News.
Ted Budd wins N.C. GOP Senate primary after Trump endorsement
Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C. is the winner of North Carolina's Republican Senate primary, NBC News projects. Budd, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, beat out former Gov. Pat McCrory and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker. He will face Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Budd was locked in a tight race with McCrory for months but was able to turn the race into less of nail-biter with just weeks to go thanks mostly to Trump and the Club for Growth, a conservative economics group spending millions in Republican primaries.
Both Trump and the Club for Growth announced their support for Budd last year. In fact, Budd was one of Trump’s earliest endorsements of the entire cycle. But Budd did not start building a lead in the polls until the final weeks of the race.
Beasley wins in N.C. Democratic primary
Cheri Beasley, a former state Supreme Court justice, wins the North Carolina Democratic Senate primary, NBC News projects.
Beasley did not face a significant primary challenge. She will face Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., this fall.
Fetterman says pacemaker procedure was 'successful'
Fetterman, the Democratic front-runner for the Senate in Pennsylvania, tweeted just over an hour before polls closed that he had successfully emerged from a procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator after he suffered a stroke last week.
"We got the all-clear that it was successful, and that I’m on track for a full recovery," Fetterman wrote. "Thank yinz for the well-wishes — it means the world to me. Now back to resting + recovering!"
Rand Paul, Charles Booker to face off in Kentucky Senate election, NBC News projects
Republican incumbent Rand Paul handily won his party's nomination for the Senate in Kentucky, while Democrats nominated progressive Charles Booker to face him in November, NBC News projected Tuesday.
Booker lost a 2020 Democratic primary for the Senate to Amy McGrath in a contest for the right to challenge the powerful Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
GOP senator predicts Cawthorn would lose if primary goes to runoff
Sen. Thom Tillis, a harsh critic of Rep. Madison Cawthorn, a fellow North Carolina Republican serving his first term, told NBC News he was skeptical of Cawthorn’s re-election prospects.
Asked what it would say about the Republican Party if Cawthorn wins Tuesday’s crowded GOP primary, Tillis said, “It says that about 30 percent of the people supported him in the district, which means about 70 percent of Republicans didn’t.”
A congressional candidate in North Carolina can win the primary outright and avoid a runoff by placing first with more than 30 percent of the vote. Tillis predicted Cawthorn would lose if his race heads to a runoff.
Tillis also pushed back against former President Donald Trump’s call for voters to give Cawthorn a second chance, saying: “Technically, this is the sixth or seventh chance. He hasn’t learned from a mistake he’s made over the last year.
“So, you know, I believe everybody deserves second chances, as well. It’s why I voted for a lot of the criminal justice reform bills," Tillis said. "But at a certain point, this becomes a pattern of behavior."
Printing error slows ballot counting in Lancaster County, Pa.
Officials in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County said Tuesday a printing error will delay a final tally in its primary election by several days.
Election officials began opening mail ballots at 7 a.m., in compliance with a state law, and discovered an incorrect election code on some of them, County Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said at a news conference, attributing the error to an election vendor.
Only about one-third of the 21,000 mail ballots the county had received by Tuesday morning scanned properly, Chief Registrar Christa Miller said.
Officials will have to fix the incorrect ballots through a replication process that consists of three election workers working together to re-mark freshly printed ballots exactly as the voters cast them, Miller said. The re-marked ballots will then be counted by county machines.
Fetterman to get pacemaker as he recovers from stroke
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who suffered a stroke last week, "is about to undergo a standard procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator," his campaign said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
"It should be a short procedure that will help protect his heart and address the underlying cause of his stroke ... by regulating his heart rate and rhythm," the campaign added.
Fetterman is the front-runner in Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. Earlier Tuesday, he voted by emergency absentee ballot. His wife, Gisele, said Fetterman plans to "be back on the trail soon."
Democrat looking to challenge Cawthorn says voters are 'ready for something different'
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, a Democrat running for the seat from North Carolina held by GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn, told NBC News Tuesday she feels that her campaign is making inroads with independents and Republicans.
Beach-Ferrara, speaking outside a polling place in Fletcher, said unaffiliated and GOP voters have told her that her message is resonating with them because they’re “ready for something different.”
One conservative Republican, Terry Henry, said he had been struggling over whether to back Cawthorn in the GOP primary. He said he ultimately went with his "gut" and still voted for him.
A local judge overseeing the voting location said turnout has been slower than expected and that many Democrats were casting ballots at the polls there even though it is a predominantly conservative-leaning area.
Fetterman votes from hospital after stroke
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman voted in the commonwealth's Democratic primary Tuesday from the hospital, several days after he suffered a stroke.
His campaign for the Senate said he voted by emergency absentee ballot. His wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, voted in person in Braddock.
Fetterman has been off the campaign trail since he went to the hospital Friday. He said Sunday that he had had a stroke and that he was recovering.
Pennsylvania primaries preview midterms abortion rights fight
In the weeks since a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion showed the court on the verge of overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which has protected the constitutional right to abortion for nearly a half-century, debate over the future of abortion rights has permeated Pennsylvania’s elections ahead of Tuesday’s primaries while activists on both sides assess next moves.
With the threat of abortion rights’ being cut, Democrats are looking for the issue to invigorate a base that has yet to recapture the momentum they generated during Trump’s term. Republicans, on the cusp of achieving a long-sought goal of overturning Roe, have downplayed its electoral significance but pledged sweeping changes.
Nowhere will that debate play out more sharply than in the battle for governor, in which Josh Shapiro, the state attorney general who is running uncontested for the Democratic nomination, has pledged to veto any legislation that would curtail abortion rights that might hit his desk. Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature, and Democrats haven’t held a single chamber since 2010.
Barnette says she'll back GOP nominee if she loses
Kathy Barnette, locked in what polls suggest is a three-way tie for the Republican Senate nomination in Pennsylvania, said she would back whichever candidate voters choose Tuesday.
Barnette, after losing a congressional race in 2020 by nearly 20 points, baselessly claimed fraud, launching a hunt that eventually attracted the attention of national figures in the election denial movement.
Asked by NBC News whether voters could trust the process and the results of Tuesday's elections, Barnette said, "Make sure you’re coming out and voting. Don’t allow anything to discourage you, every single Republican. You need to be at these polls today."
Asked if she would back the Republican nominee for Senate "win or lose," Barnette said she would.
However, Barnette on Monday suggested she wouldn't back rivals Mehmet Oz or David McCormick if she loses.
"I have no intention of supporting globalists," she said during an interview with SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily, adding, "I don’t think we have room to just vote for any old warm body with an ‘R’ next to their name. I think we can do better than that.”
Gisele Fetterman casts ballot, says husband will be 'back on the trail soon'
In Braddock, Pa., Fetterman's hometown, his wife Gisele voted at a local polling place Tuesday morning.
"We feel very good about today," she said after voting. "I think he will get to celebrate soon."
Gisele Fetterman told reporters her husband, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for Senate, will be voting in the primary and will "be back on the trail soon" after resting and recovering from a stroke, though she didn't have an exact date.
"This is the seat that could decide very much the future of our country and where we go on issues that he's worked so hard on for the last two decades," she said. "So it's a very important seat. It's very serious."
‘Hot mess’ Madison Cawthorn faces judgment day in North Carolina
In little more than a year in Congress, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., has become famous in political circles. On Tuesday, that could cost him his job.
“He’s a hot mess,” Susan Newman, 53, a teacher from nearby Laurel Park who voted for Cawthorn two years ago, said in the parking lot of an Ingles grocery store. “I really don’t see him doing anything in the district — and he just keeps getting in trouble.”
That sentiment, echoed by several voters here who spoke to NBC News, suggests Cawthorn is in danger of getting the boot in Tuesday’s hotly contested Republican primary for the 11th District seat.
Trump waded into GOP primaries. Democrats hope he sticks around.
Donald Trump has inserted himself into the Republican primaries this week in Pennsylvania, much to the chagrin of some GOP members there, who think he may have picked the wrong candidates and needlessly shuffled the race.
Democrats, however, aren’t so sure they’ve got a problem with the former president making himself an outsize figure in the races there or nationwide, as they try to leverage his divisiveness to their advantage in yet another election.
Democrats are largely still trying to settle on exactly what role Trump should play in their campaigns as they defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate this fall.
A surge, a stroke, and a late endorsement: Pa. primary voters head to polls after surprises
In the battle to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, Trump-backed Mehmet Oz, a celebrity physician known from his nationally syndicated daytime talk show, is locked in a three-way fight for the GOP nomination. He and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick have bombarded the state’s airwaves with commercials. But polls have shown Kathy Barnette — a conservative commentator who has spent far less money and would be the first woman and Black candidate to win a Senate seat in Pennsylvania — surging late.
In the GOP race for governor, Doug Mastriano has led in recent polls, while former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta has attempted to consolidate support among Republicans who worry that the state senator is too extreme to be elected this fall. Trump, however, weighed in Saturday with a last-minute endorsement for Mastriano.
There is less suspense on the Democratic side in Pennsylvania. In the Senate primary, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has held a sizable lead in polls, though he was absent from the campaign trail in the closing days after suffering a stroke. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro is unopposed in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited.