The Sweep: Headed Toward a Recount in Pennsylvania
It’s too close to call in the Senate primary race between Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.
Right now, GOP Senate hopefuls Mehmet Oz and David McCormick are separated by less than 3,000 votes, or .2 percent, as we send this newsletter. Pennsylvania election law triggers an automatic recount if the top two vote getters are within .5 percent. So that’s almost certainly where we’re headed.
For what it’s worth, recounts are my speciality. I’ve sat in warehouses for weeks watching hand recounts proceed like molasses. It’s not glamorous, but it is exceptionally fun. So here are my tips for winning a recount:
Be ahead. The best predictor of who will win a recount is who starts ahead in the recount. Duh. Oz is ahead right now. McCormick claims there are “tens of thousands of mail-in votes” that haven’t been counted yet, which he thinks will lean his direction since he was leading in the polls during the beginning of early voting. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. But I’d still rather go in ahead than behind.
Plan ahead. We had teams and teams of lawyers in 2012 whose sole job was to prepare for a recount in any given state. On Election Day, everyone had a binder with the phone numbers of the relevant election officials and judges on duty, draft pleadings, and a chain of custody map for how all of the ballots and voting machines would move after polls closed. This should have been done weeks ago … now we’ll see which team did its homework.
Lawyer up. The campaigns are going to need lawyers in every room at every table where ballots are being counted. They’re also going to need a Seal Team Six litigation team who know when to go to court and have the experience and gravitas to sound credible to a judge. Most importantly, though, candidates need a cohesive legal team. The general counsel for a Senate primary race is an election lawyer who knows the FEC regulations, not a courtroom brawler. The best ones called the most ruthless litigator they knew last night and told them it was go time. The general counsel will also understand that his or her role moving forward is totally different. The general counsel is now the consigliere to the candidate who will work with the campaign staff to coordinate volunteers and make sure the communications staff understand what’s going on. They will get the new lawyers up to speed on where they think the votes are. But they will not try to “oversee” the recount. Let the litigation team do its job. It’s why you pay them $1,500 an hour.