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CNN Live Event/Special

CNN Projects Josh Shapiro Wins PA Democratic Governor Primary; Too Early To Call G.O.P. Senate And Governor Races In Pennsylvania; Cawthorn Trails In Early Results For NC House G.O.P. Primary; McCormick Campaign Optimistic; Believes Oz, Barnette Fighting For Same Votes; Fetterman Campaign Says It Feels "Good" About How Tonight Will Play Out; Too Early To Call GOP Senate & Governor Races In Pennsylvania. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 17, 2022 - 20:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, John King, thanks so much.

We're closing in on the end of voting in the Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the first results from the highest profile Senate race tonight. We'll see how the Trump endorsed candidate TV doctor, Mehmet Oz fares against two very competitive challengers including the late surge in conservative, Kathy Burnette.

Here's our key race alert. It is too early to call Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary as of now. The very competitive three-way race pitting Dr. Mehmet Oz against former hedge fund CEO, David McCormick and conservative firebrand, Kathy Barnette.

On the Democratic side, it is also too early to call at the Senate primary featuring Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, Congressman Conor Lamb, and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta.

It is also too early to call the Republican primary race for Pennsylvania Governor, Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed candidate is running against former Congressman Lou Barletta, former U.S. attorney Bill McSwain, and businessman Dave White.

But we do have a projection to make and the Democratic governor's race.

And CNN projects Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro will be the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania Governor. Shapiro goes through uncontested. He will face the winner of the Republican gubernatorial primary in the fall.

Dana Bash, Shapiro is counting on having a Republican candidate -- a Republican competitor, whom he can easily paint as extreme.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. He is already starting to do that. We should note that Josh Shapiro announced that he is positive for COVID. So, I'm not sure that we're actually going to see him tonight. But Jake is exactly right. He became a national figure during the time

between November -- the November election and when the Inauguration happened because as the Attorney General in Pennsylvania, he was very aggressive about pushing back against GOP efforts to overturn the election there, and depending on who he has as his opponent, he might be fighting that exact same fight, not just about looking back to 2020, but potentially looking ahead to 2024.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Democrats want to make this about contrast as much as possible, and if the Republicans nominate the person that Trump has endorsed, Mastriano in this race, Josh Shapiro will have probably the starkest contrast that he could have on the issue of the election, but also what Democrats are teeing up is the Governor's races across the country being a last vanguard against the sort of push forward of, you know, right-wing policies, especially on the issue of abortion.

And Shapiro himself has said, he is the person, if he is elected Governor that's going to be standing in the way of a Republican legislature pushing forward abortion bans. That's the kind of message you're going to hear from him on that issue, and you're probably going to hear it from a lot of other Democrats in Governor's races all across the country.

TAPPER: Abby, thanks so much.

I'm jealous right now. My colleague Wolf Blitzer is in Pennsylvania specifically in Philadelphia. Wolf, tell us what's going on there.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You know, Jake, we're following all the key races in Pennsylvania tonight, including the Republican contest for governor. CNN's Melanie Zanona is at the campaign headquarters of the Trump-backed candidate, Doug Mastriano.

Melanie, there are some finger pointing happening among Pennsylvania Republicans tonight. Update our viewers. What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, the polls have only just now closed, but the blame game among Republicans is already starting to heat up.

For weeks, the frontrunner in this race has been State Senator Doug Mastriano. He has made lies about the 2020 election a centerpiece of his campaign, and some Republicans fear that he is too extreme to win this key battleground state come November.

Privately, Republicans are pointing a finger at the state party organization for not endorsing a candidate and for allowing this vacuum to emerge. One GOP operative said it was foolish and said, quote, "Everyone is collectively losing their minds here." But one person who was not shy about getting into this race, Donald Trump, he endorsed Mastriano in the 11th hour over the weekend. That was a huge boost for Mastriano.

But look, the stakes are high here. The Governor is allowed to appoint whoever oversees the State Elections, and so this race has implications beyond 2022 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting point. Thanks very much for that.

I want to bring in Kasie hunt, Michael Smerconish, they're going to be with me assessing what's going on. Both you guys are Pennsylvania natives, so you know a lot about the state.

There seems to be a lot of unconventional candidates, Michael, right now who are gaining some traction. Tell us about that.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I would say that one of the reasons that you can gain traction as an unconventional candidate in Pennsylvania is because we are one of nine closed primary states.

I am one of 1.4 million Pennsylvanians shut out of this election today, very frustrating for me because it's so darn exciting and I think that rewards passion. Meaning, you get the fringes in both parties who come out and dominate primary elections.


For example, I don't think that the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate who will win tonight in all likelihood, John Fetterman, is necessarily the strongest General Election candidate, nor do I feel that way about Doug Mastriano, the likely Republican who will win the gubernatorial race, but passion rules the roost and that's what you're about to see.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, and one thing, too, Wolf, I have to say. So I've done a lot of years, I often go to, in particular, Walmart parking lots to talk to voters. So I did that a couple of days ago in York, Pennsylvania, which is a pretty red county, but it does have a contingent of Democrats.

I was there for a John Fetterman event, and usually you get a mix of, you know, you can find some Democrats, Republicans. I found both. I found supporters of Conor Lamb, John Fetterman, Mehmet Oz, some others. But I also got a contingent of voters who were angry that I was asking.

I got you know, typical nonvoters, you run into people who don't vote or they're not familiar, whatever reason. But this was one of the first times I'd gone to this -- gone to a parking lot, talk to people and found a group that just said, "Why would I bother doing that?" And their voices were sort of angry. Their posture was, "Who cares. Why? The system is failing me."

And I think that helps explain a little bit of why, Michael is right, that it is about the way the parties have kind of polarized, and they're going to the polls, but I also think the people are just really pissed off. They're really angry about what's going on and they don't feel like anyone can help them.

I mean, they tried it with the Trump administration, then they switch. They handed power in Washington to Democrats. And now inflation has gone rampant, people are really unhappy with their lives. So I think that contributes a little bit to this phenomenon, too.

BLITZER: You get the same sense?

SMERCONISH: There are a lot of push button issues that do have people infuriated. Inflation at a 40-year high, I think is one of them. I think the situation on the border for Republicans is another. I mean, there's a whole laundry list of things that just produce agita for lack of a better expression, and you're seeing those type of voters upset about them showing up today.

But there are a whole host of folks who are not coming out either because they can't or because they don't have interest and their voice isn't heard.

BLITZER: Let's go back to Jake.

Jake, I understand you have a key race alert right now.

TAPPER: I do, Wolf. Let's take a look at what these Pennsylvania voters are actually thinking. Let's go to the Republican Senate primary right now. CNN with one percent of the vote in has David McCormick in the lead position, 42.6 percent of the vote. He is 2,418 votes ahead of Mehmet Oz, the Trump-endorsed candidate, the TV doctor who has 22.7 percent of the vote, and firebrand Kathy Barnette has 15.6 of the vote. That is only with one percent of the vote in. But right now, at this hour, Dave McCormick has the lead.

On the Democratic side, John Fetterman, the Lieutenant Governor has a whopping 57.4 percent of the vote. He is 13,604 votes ahead of Congressman Conor Lamb who has 39.7 percent of the vote and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta from the Philadelphia area who has 2.1 percent of the vote. That is with a minority of the vote.

Now let's take a look at the Republican gubernatorial primary right now, who is going to run for Governor against Josh Shapiro, the incumbent Democrat and who is the Attorney General, Bill McSwain is in first place right now. He has 26.7 percent of the vote. He is roughly 1,800 votes ahead of the guy in second place, Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed candidate who has 11.6 percent of the vote. Former Congressman Lou Barletta is in third place with 10.9 percent of the vote, businessman Dave White has 10.8 percent of the vote. This is with only one of the estimated vote in right now.

We're also waiting right now for -- oh look at this, in North Carolina. Let's look at this. Incumbent Congressman Madison Cawthorn is still in second place. Madison Cawthorn is behind State Senator Chuck Edwards. Chuck Edwards in first place with 38 percent of the vote. Now, it's 38 percent of the vote. He is 4,088 votes ahead of the incumbent Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn, who has 27.3 percent of the vote. That is with more of the vote in than the last time we looked at this. This is 37 percent of the vote.

John King, this is shaping up, at least as of right now to be not a good night for Madison Cawthorn and that race -- and now, we can stick in Pennsylvania. You can stick in Pennsylvania, and Dave McCormick doing well, it's early, one percent in, but Dave McCormick doing well right now.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is early, Jake, and that's the key point. Again 67 counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Allegheny County is the only one reporting votes so far, perhaps that one changes, it often does as we start to count them.

This the second largest county in the state, just shy of 10 percent of the population. So it matters. It's a big population center, but we have seen in the Ohio Senate race in the Nebraska's governor's race, they are more moderate. These are all conservatives running, but you would say Dave McCormick is the most moderate or the least conservative of the leading Senate candidates here, maybe Dr. Oz would disagree with that, but he pulled out in the early vote.

You've seen this repeat time after time after time in traditional voting areas that a more traditional candidate, maybe that's the best way to put it, pulls out first.


But this is one percent of the vote statewide. And as you know, when you pull it out, it's still only 12 percent of the vote in Allegheny County. So we have a long way to go in a very complicated, diverse state like Pennsylvania.

But Dave McCormick has an early lead. Again, you'd always rather be ahead than behind. Dr. Oz in second place at 23 if you round up; Kathy Barnette at 16 percent, if you round up. They have a long way to go.

You also mentioned the Governor's race. Again, often you see in both Nebraska and Ohio, we had candidates pull out to an early lead who ended up being third. So let's just wait and strap in and count some votes as we go through it. But Bill McSwain, the former U.S. Attorney ahead by 431 votes in the early count as we go through.

On the Democratic side, let me come back to this again, just look at the Democratic side of the Senate race here. Again, it's six percent of the vote statewide they believe in the Democratic race. The only interesting part about this is Fetterman leading, this is Conor Lamb's part of the state. He's a congressman from out here in the Pittsburgh area.

So to see the Lieutenant Governor Fetterman leading even in what you would say as Conor Lamb's backyard is interesting. But again, it is incredibly early.

But let's walk down to North Carolina that race you were talking about. First, I'm just going to pop up the Senate Democratic primary. We've already projected the former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley as the winner, the Senate Republican we've already projected Ted Budd as the winner. Just look how impressive it is, though.

You see that pink? That is Ted Budd filling in most of the map. This is a very impressive win for a congressman who struggled early on, the Trump endorsement Club for Growth Money, certainly helping fuel him. And now, let's go to this Republican side because will you have a very

MAGA incumbent Republican Congressman beat in his primary? Look, Trump is still with Madison Cawthorn. The rest of the Republican establishment has run as fast as it can from Madison Cawthorn. He tried to support most of them, Chuck Edwards. Chuck Edwards now at 38 percent, Cawthorn at 27 percent.

Some states, you'd have run offs. In this state, if the winning candidate is a leading candidate is above 30 percent, they get the nomination. So with about 37 percent of the vote in, Chuck Edwards right now, leading.

If that margin held up, Jake, he would be the Republican nominee in the 11th congressional district and this is a very red area. He would be the next congressman from North Carolina, most likely. But again, we'll watch as the votes come in. But if you're Congressman Cawthorn tonight, you are thinking two years of constant controversy ranging from supporting the Big Lie, from saying it was Antifa in the Capitol on January 6th, to accusing the House Republican leadership of having orgies and using cocaine, you would say this is all maybe adding up on Madison Cawthorn.

And as we count the votes there and watch them, let's come back up to Pennsylvania and let's switch it over to the Senate Republican race. Now you see again, we started with just votes in the West. I'm going to slide the map over a little bit. We have some votes in the east including the number one county right here, the biggest area in the state, number one population center is Philadelphia and you see Dr. Oz there.

His headquarters tonight is just outside of Philadelphia in Bucks County. He is counting on the Trump endorsement helping him. He is counting on his celebrity helping him with the largest population center in the state right here. Dr. Oz opening up very modestly, look, 574 votes to 540 votes. We have a long way to count in Philadelphia.

And Jake, as you all know, sometimes that takes a bit.

Let's move over here as well to Bucks County as you start to move out into the suburban collar. It is Dave McCormick with the early lead there, about 11 percent said in Bucks County there and then you move up a little further to Northampton County and moving away. Now, Allentown area here, Scranton as you keep going up, David McCormick leaving early there.

Again, when you pull back out, 67 counties in the state, four of them with results so far, a very long way to go. But clearly, clearly evidence that we're going to bounce around a little bit in this hotly contested Senate race.

TAPPER: I don't want to over analyze it, John, but the big buckets of Republican votes are the ones where McCormick is doing well. Those collar counties, there aren't -- numerically I don't think there are a ton of Republican votes in the City of Philadelphia, even if that is the breadbasket of voters in come in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, right? KING: Without a doubt, without a doubt. And so you can come back to

the presidential map and look here. It's all blue here, right? It is all blue for Biden in this part of the country. But if you come in, in Philadelphia itself, Trump was blown out, not a ton of Republicans there and the Republicans that are there again, are your more -- your urban and then closed in suburban Republicans are the ones who revolted against Donald Trump.

But when you move over here, Montgomery County, you see Trump got 36 percent. You come up to Bucks County, Trump got 47 percent. There are a lot of traditional Republicans in the suburbs around Philadelphia. Again, you know it well, Jake, you grew up there, and these are the Republicans who made George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, President of the United States who are traditionally supporting Republican candidates.

The question is, Republicans do believe in 2022, with Trump not on the ballot, and with inflation, with the wind and the Democrats' face, Republicans believe they can have a resurgence in the suburbs. These primaries are one test. November will be the big test, but seeing who votes where the margins are and which of these Republican candidates, this is the Governor's race here, and you see -- McSwain is leading everywhere, we have votes right now.

But again, you're seeing votes in the more moderate areas of the state right now, which is why you see a more moderate candidate, someone Trump openly opposes winning right now on the Governor's race. You come over to the Senate race side here, again two percent of this, we have a long way to go counting votes in the Commonwealth.


But yes, that David McCormick is pulling into early leads in those traditional areas tells you traditional Republicans are with the former hedge fund manager, a more traditional Republican candidate if we rewound the tape eight or 10 years. We don't live in that Republican Party anymore, so we have a long way to count.

TAPPER: Right. And one of the lessons that we've learned from the Trump years was that he was able to build up the margins of victory in those counties that weren't Pittsburgh, or Harrisburg, or Philadelphia, so that instead of a Democrat, like Barack Obama, and I'm just making up these numbers, but losing 60/40, a Democrat like Hillary Clinton would lose to Donald Trump, you know, 80/20.

And those are the areas that I think Kathy Barnette and Mehmet Oz, if the Trump endorsement really has weight, where they could do really well.

KING: Right, and a key point, let's just move over. Let's go back in time, two weeks, to neighboring Ohio when J.D. Vance with the Trump endorsement won. You see all this pink in the rural areas, that's Trump country. Rural America is Trump country or Trumpism country if you don't want to associate it directly with the former President.

But the forces that he unleashed in the party or that he maximized, put on steroids in the party, you see them here.

When we first started counting in Ohio two weeks ago, Matt Dolan, the more moderate candidate was in the head. He got the government establishment vote in Columbus, he got Cleveland in the suburbs around Cleveland. He took an early lead, but then this, rural Ohio swamped him.

The question is what, who will rural Pennsylvania go for in a Republican primary? Small counties when you add up all these votes, just ask Donald Trump, they count.

TAPPER: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we're awaiting more votes in that pivotal Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania featuring former TV Dr. Mehmet Oz who is running behind as of right now, but it's early. We're also keeping a close eye on a GOP House primary in North Carolina where scandal-plagued incumbent Congressman Madison Cawthorn is trailing as of right now.

We'll be right back after this quick break.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We've got a key race alert in North Carolina. There you see, State Senator Chuck Edwards right now in the lead with 37.8 percent, scandal-plagued Madison Cawthorn right now behind with 27.6 as the votes continue to come in and be counted.

We should point out that Senator Thom Tillis endorsed State Senator Chuck Edwards instead of Madison Cawthorn in this race.

Let's go to Dianne Gallagher at the Cawthorn headquarters -- Dianne.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, State Senator Chuck Edwards not only benefited from U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, but also more than six figures from that Super PAC that is tied to Tillis that was dropped into attack ads against Cawthorn.

We're seeing some of the fruits of that labor at this point. I spend time with State Senator Chuck Edwards who said that he was investing a lot of time in his Senate seat here in North Carolina, which is Henderson County where I am now in Buncombe County, Transylvania County, and the early returns we're seeing coming in from there show that that may have paid off.

We're looking in some places two to one, even close to three to one, Edwards over Cawthorn. Now, I do want to caution this is just early voting totals. We have a long way to go here. But this is what Chuck Edwards wanted to see early in the night. This is what his campaign teams were working toward in this particular area where the population is centered in this district.

COOPER: Dianne Gallagher, appreciate that. I want to go to Manu Raju who is standing by on Capitol Hill. Manu, I know there a lot of people on Capitol Hill watching this race very closely in North Carolina. MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And actually

encouraged by the results, something you typically don't see. Typically Republicans and Democrats who have members of their own who are running for re-election, they quickly get behind that individual, but not with Madison Cawthorn.

In fact, all the Republicans in the delegation when we asked them, none of them said that they would actually support Cawthorn's re- election. One of them, you mentioned Thom Tillis, he told me this is the first time ever he has gotten behind someone, an opponent of a sitting Republican Member of Congress and Richard Burr, who is the retiring Republican senator also said to me earlier today that there was virtually no chance Republicans would welcome back Madison Cawthorn if he were to win today.

So at the moment, Anderson, Republicans feeling good seeing one of their own potentially going down and in the primary tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Manu Raju, appreciate it. Back with the panel here. You don't hear that very often. Chris, particularly these days of so many Republicans on -- who are serving in Capitol Hill, not wanting Madison Cawthorn back.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: You know, if you had gone about the last two years trying to blow up your political viability, you could not have done a better job than Madison Cawthorn has done.

I'm just looking down the bill of particulars here. He has been stopped three times by the police since October. He's been stopped by the TSA at checkpoints, at airports with guns.

COOPER: I believe it was one gun and then a loaded magazine the first time.

WALLACE: Okay, I take your point. He's been photographed in women's lingerie.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We should probably have gotten that out on time.

WALLACE: And he has been and photographed in sexually indiscreet or concerning videos, and maybe the thing that got him in the most trouble is that they had a redistricting and he was going to go run in another district, and then they changed the district and he had to go back to his district and say, oops, never mind, I really want to be representing you people.

And as was just pointed out, the incumbent Republican senator of North Carolina, Thom Tillis is not only actively opposing him, his Super PAC has put $1.5 million into the right saying that he's an embarrassment and a disaster.

Other than that, it's been smooth sailing for Madison Cawthorn.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But here's the worst thing, I think, worse than all the stuff you're just talking about, that he accused his colleagues of participating in sex orgies and using cocaine and that was it.


And Kevin McCarthy had to call him into his office, Republican leader and say, "What is this about?" And then he backed down and admitted that he had been lying, but that was the moment I think the dam broke because --

WALLACE: In Washington, I am not sure though in North Carolina.

BORGER: Right, in Washington, that was it. They were all then opposing him.

COOPER: Although it does seem like he has alienated a lot of the people who supported him the first time around when he ran, a lot of people who have, you know, strong ties in North Carolina who made calls to their friends saying, hey, look, you know, this is a guy you can trust.

AXELROD: No, remember when he burst on the scene he was an interesting story. Here was a young guy who had overcome an accident, you know, and there was a lot of interest in him. But this has turned into you know, Madison Cawthorn's Excellent Adventure. You know, he's made a folly of this.

And as you point out, once you accuse your colleagues, that's like a red line. They'll tolerate almost anything, but not that.

BORGER: Right.

COOPER: It was also interesting, I mean, early on when he was running, and even after he got elected, you know, he was talking about reaching over across the aisle. He was sort of saying a lot of things which sounded like he was critical of the sort of the rhetoric coming out of Washington at the time he was elected, and then that went away.

AXELROD: He is a profoundly unserious person and that's become apparent. I mean, even in a place where, you know, not everyone is a huge historic figure, he really stands out for the frivolousness of his --

WALLACE: Interestingly enough, Donald Trump just came out in this ad, we should give him a second chance. It appears that the voters in the 11th district of North Carolina may not give him a second chance. And this is one case where an incumbent might go down and I think that the North Carolina Republican Party and the Republican Party nationally would breathe a huge sigh of relief.

BORGER: And he discovered, I think, you say he started out seriously, you think.

AXELROD: Well, I said he was a person-of-interest.

BORGER: Maybe. Interest. AXELROD: Yes.

BORGER: Then he started hanging out with Marjorie Taylor Greene and Gaetz, and you could see what was happening, which is he was part of that, that in-crowd and they were pro-Trump all the way and that is probably the only reason Donald Trump endorsed him and there are lots of people in the Trump circle who thought it was crazy.

Why would you do this? And Donald Trump's only reason is that he believed in the Big Lie and talked about it constantly.

AXELROD: Well, he may be part of the out crowd now.

BORGER: Yes, exactly.

COOPER: There is a lot of uncertainty hanging over the very competitive GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania. We're standing by for more results from that state and in all the key races.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And I have a key race alert for you right now for the Pennsylvania Senate race on the Republican side Hedge Fund CEO Dave McCormick remains in first place with 36.2% of the vote. About 4,500 votes ahead of Mehmet Oz the TV doctor who has 23.1% of the vote. And in third place as of right now, a Kathy Barnette the radio firebrand who has 17.2% of the vote. That's with only 2% of the estimated vote and still a lot of votes to count.

Now let's go to the Democratic side where Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman remains in the lead with 51.8% of the vote, almost 35,000 votes ahead of Congressman Conor Lamb who has 33.3% of the vote and State Legislator Malcolm Kenyatta who is at 12.1% of the vote. That's what a little bit more of the vote in about 16% there.

Kristen Holmes is at McCormick headquarters in Pittsburgh. Kristen, what is the McCormick camp saying about this early league?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, advisors here are still saying it's anyone's game, but they do see a path to victory for the former Hedge Fund CEO. They were unknown last week when they saw this late surge from Kathy Barnette, believing it came from months of mudslinging between Oz and McCormick, really opening up a lane for Barnette to succeed. They decided to replicate this strategy, allow Oz and Barnette to tear each other a parking ticket forming out of it, hoping that he would have his own lanes.

Essentially what they did was they pulled most of his negative ads replace them with ads about hope and optimism for the country biological -- biographical excuse me, spots on his family. As we saw in the McCormick all over the state not once mentioning his opponents by name tonight. This is a night they see if this strategy shift works.

TAPPER: All right. Let's go to the Democratic Senate primary now in Pennsylvania, Jessica Dean is at the headquarters the front runner, John Fetterman.

And Jessica, the Lieutenant Governor Fetterman, he's in the hospital right now after getting a pacemaker implanted today. What's he doing as the results come in?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know I was just talking with a campaign spokesperson and he told me that the Lieutenant Governor is recovering in his hospital room and those returns come in along with his dad, his brother, his campaign manager. So they're about four hours away from us. We're currently in Pittsburgh, we are expecting to hear from his wife Giselle, and their children. They are here but again the Lieutenant Governor, not the night he thought he would be having in terms of where he thought he would be and how he would be taking all of this in now.

He is in that hospital room recovering from having the pacemaker put in earlier today. They say that it went very well that he is expected to make a full recovery. This is after he suffered a stroke on Friday, Jake. That took him off the trail for the last five days those key last days on the trail that the campaign says they feel very good about where they stand tonight as they watch these returns come in.


TAPPER: All right, Jessica Dean, thanks so much.

We'll have more results from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after this quick break. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we have a key race alert for you from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Let's look at the Senate standings as of right now on the Republican side. Former Hedge Fund, the CEO Dave McCormick is up with 32.1% of the vote. He is about 5,600 votes ahead of Mehmet Oz, Dr. Oz endorsed by Donald Trump who has 22.1% of the vote. Right now pairing up the rear Kathy Barnette with 19.3% of the vote, but that's only with 4% of the vote in as of now. But Dave McCormick right now in first place.

Let's look at the Democrats. On the Democratic side Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman still with a very healthy lead 54.2% of the vote. He is more than 62,000 votes ahead of his closest challenger Congressman Conor Lamb from the Pittsburgh area who is 30.7% of the vote, bringing up the rear State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta with 10.8% of the vote.


Let's take a look at the Republican gubernatorial primary right now. With former U.S. attorney Bill McSwain in the lead right now with 26.9% of the vote, he's about 5,700 votes ahead of businessman Dave White, who has 16.9% of the vote. Former Congressman Lou Barletta with 13.7% of the vote. And Doug Mastriano, one of the strongest Trump supporters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania bringing up the rear with 12.5% of the vote. That is only with 4% of the estimated vote in right now.

And John King, we should point out to our viewers, when you look at how much of the vote has come in, we're not even in the first inning of this game right now.

KING: We are not -- we are the first batters up. Maybe however you whatever baseball metaphor, sports metaphor you want to use, we are early, and that's the number you just mentioned, that's most important. Talking about in the context of this is the Republican primary about 4% of the vote counted so far.

So if you're David McCormick, it's great to be ahead, although if you look at the Ohio Senate race in Nebraska governor's race in the Republican primaries in both of those states, the candidate that opened up an early lead in both of those states came in third. Now, there's no way of knowing until we count more votes if that's going to happen. But if you're David McCormick you're at 32%, as you said, a 5,600 vote in change lead over Dr. Oz. Kathy Barnette, the surprising conservative who was surging at the end, did she peak too soon. It's going to be a couple hours Jake, before we get to that answer.

But just looking at the map, you see one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 counties where David McCormick is leading at the moment. One for Dr. Oz, that's Philadelphia County, it happens to be the biggest population center in the state Philadelphia. And one Kathy Barnette, in Montgomery County in the suburbs out here. But again, look, leading with about 15% of the vote in this very important suburban area outside of Philly, 30% 25, 18 that's what we'll be watching as we go through these counties.

So you move over here to Bucks County 31, 24, 19. So they're splitting the vote in the early vote as we come through it. And you're looking for anything regional at the moment, obviously, Philadelphia is county number one, Allegheny County in terms of population is county number two, here, you do see McCormick with an edge in this three way race as we've gone through these other primaries, you see how the vote is splitting it in the population centers. You want a gap like that, if it holds up, it's only 12% of the vote, but you'd like a 20 point gap like that in a major population center, because that gives you math.

But Jake, we all know this from the Trump experience. Pennsylvania is a very competitive state or Commonwealth, and you see all these counties that are still gray. That's Trump country, that is rural Pennsylvania. So does the Trump endorsement matter? Does Kathy Barnette saying she's actually was Trump before Trump, if you will, in pushing those conservative positions or, or mega positions? Does that work? And just if you're asking at home, why is that county white? Well, that's a tie 87 to 87, 56 votes there.

Clinton County, Pennsylvania 56, out of the 67 counties in terms of the population center, Donald Trump won this county with 67%, 68% of the vote against Joe Biden a couple of years ago. So we'll watch how that plays out. It's a tie at the moment. That's why it's white compared to the other colors on the map. Long way to go.

TAPPER: Yes, a long way to go. And I think any one of these three candidates could ultimately pull it out by the end. Take us down the Democratic race right now, because I think people would have anticipated a much more competitive race among the Democrats. And we're seeing as of right now at least.

KING: At the beginning of the race, the answer to that was yes. Late in the race there wasn't a ton of public polling here reliable polling anyway. But you did see the Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman with somewhere in the ballpark of a 25, 30 point lead in some of the polls that were released, that's ballpark where he is now with about 22% of the vote counted, but again, we still have a long way to go. You mentioned Malcolm Kenyatta. He's a state legislator from the Philadelphia area and you do see his green color here leading in Philadelphia at the moment, but let's just pop it up and see only 18%. Philadelphia the number one by far population center in this Commonwealth so this matters a ton, 18% and we'll watch it play out.

But you see John Fetterman's color everywhere else including out here, Allegheny County is interesting in the sense that you have in Conor Lamb and John Fetterman, two people whose political base is out here in the western part of the state, Conor Lamb's house district is essentially west of Pittsburgh out toward the Ohio border. John Fetterman before he was the lieutenant governor was the mayor of Braddock, which is here eastern suburbs of Allegheny County as you move back over. So if this would be if you will, a fair fight or both of their territory right there. Fetterman in Allegheny County with almost half of the vote counted 57 to 40 if you round up.

So still a long way to go, but Fetterman lead throughout this race, he led consistently going in and despite the health questions at the end, as you watch the map fill in, again a long way to go. But the Democrat count is coming a little quicker, up to about 22%, 54 to 30. We're looking at a crowded race 54 to 31 if you round that up, that's the kind of gap you like if you're at Fetterman headquarters, but you still see a lot of math to do.

TAPPER: And Fetterman is more progressive than Conor Lamb. Conor Lamb more of a moderate Democrat at least that's how he cast himself. State Representative Kenyatta clearly the true blue progressive in the race. Go back to Philadelphia for a second I just want to say something because if Kenyatta is to have any prayer he needs to win Philadelphia outright, he just needs -- he needs a stunner there and look at that. Look, look how close that is.


KING: Yes, that's not going to do it. If you're going to have a shock and look, we should open our minds whether it's tonight or throughout this primary season. People are looking. We do see evidence in both parties and people looking outside the box. You mentioned John Fetterman. You know, he is a progressive candidate but he's also said I want to fund the police not defund the police. He's also unorthodox. He wears his hoodies, he's six foot three, six foot eight I think or something. You know, he's different candidate. But if you look if you're Malcolm Kenyatta and you want a longshot upset, you need a bigger margin than that in your home area. It's been said it's only 18% but 38 to 35 is not going to cut it but it is interesting to see him cutting into the vote as we continue to count.

TAPPER: Absolutely. We're going to go back live to Pennsylvania as more votes come in from the Commonwealth. And the hot race of the night of course the Republican Senate primary we still have no idea who's going to win that. Stay with us.



BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Philadelphia. Take a look at this. So we've got a key race alert. The Senate Republican primary here in Pennsylvania, look at this, Dave McCormick, the former CEO of a Hedge Fund he's ahead right now. He's ahead by almost 6,000 votes. He's got 32.1%, Dr. Mehmet Oz 23.2%, Kathy Burnett 19.7%. Dave McCormick is ahead right now, but only what 5% of the vote has been counted so far. So it's still early, but clearly, they're encouraged over Dave McCormick headquarters right now.

Jeff Zeleny is joining us right now from Dr. Mehmet Oz headquarters here in Pennsylvania. Take us inside the campaign right now. What are you hearing? What are you seeing over there, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, throughout this campaign, Dr. Mehmet Oz has run his campaign as a talk show like he used to be, like he vaulted into celebrity status, he would race into the room, he would high five his supporters. He would even pull people from the crowd to take checks of their blood pressure, asking them if they're worked up about what's happening in Washington.

But Wolf tonight, the show has a very uncertain ending. I am told that Dr. Oz is watching early returns come in with his family. His supporters are just beginning to trickle into the room here. And one question still hangs over this race aged he proved himself as a true conservative, as former President Donald Trump said again and again in endorsing him. And did he prove himself as a true Pennsylvanian. Of course, he recently moved into the Commonwealth. So they are watching the key suburbs around Philadelphia, of course, but also into the middle stretches of the state. That of course is where the former president was very strong in 2020. Dr. Oz not expected to be as strong but he certainly has to hold his own there.

So tonight, and uncertainty ending, at least at the Dr. Oz political show here in Bucks County, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's still early, only 5% of the vote is in. But Dave McCormick is ahead. He's got an impressive lead at least so far.

Let's discuss with Kasie Hunt and Michael Smerconish who was Pennsylvania natives. What do you make of these early numbers? SMERCONISH: I think there have been a number of momentum shifts in this Senate race. Initially, McCormick was ascendant. Then came the Trump endorsement of Oz that caused a reevaluation. If Oz wins, it's only because of Donald Trump of that uncertain. And then Wolf, you had Oz and you had McCormick spent $50 million battling one another that allowed Barnette because it was mutually assured destruction to emerge out of nowhere largely unvetted. In the 11th hour, all of a sudden, it's a three way race. But now I think because of some of the things that have been revealed about her there's yet another reevaluation. Maybe McCormick again, has the momentum at the right time.

BLITZER: How do you see Kasie?

HUNT: I think, Michael is absolutely right. I think one of the dynamics to watch here. And as we're looking at these early returns, let's not be remember, let's be careful. Yes, McCormick has an early lead. But we're really waiting on the vote to come in from the rural counties. What we've seen is a lot of vote coming in from the Pittsburgh area, from the Philadelphia area, those rural areas are really going to tell us whether or not this late Barnette surge is something that's really going to make a difference.

Now I have some sources suggest that there were maybe a lot of undecided voters here at the end, who didn't really like Oz, maybe they were Trump inclined, but they weren't really into Dr. Oz and Kathy Barnette gave them a sudden alternative at the end. And, you know, I think the real question is going to be does that last minute focus on Barnette? Does it actually push her down? Or does it have the opposite effect? Well, we've seen some of that.

SMERCONISH: If Barnette should pull this out, she has Donald Trump to thank. Because Donald Trump got into the gubernatorial race came out for Mastriano because he was nervous he wasn't going to get a W in the Senate race. Mastriano and Barnette are joined at the hip. If Mastriano wins may be he pulls her across the finish line.

BLITZER: Is David McCormick the more establishment Republican candidate someone that establishment Republicans think has the best chance to win the Senate?

SMERCONISH: I think so. When earlier in the night I said to you that the most electable candidates might not emerge from the primaries. I was thinking of Conor Lamb on the Democratic side of the aisle and I was thinking of Dave McCormick on the Republican side of the aisle because I think that the -- they are the two strongest general election candidates.

HUNT: You know, they're also the two most traditional candidates if you put Conor Lam and Dave McCormick next to each other --


HUNT: -- they look like, they dress the same. They have the same type of mannerism they have similar, you know, pedigreed backgrounds, the kind of traditional way that you would come into politics. And I think voters are just flat out rejecting that lately. They're looking for something else and you know, even in a Commonwealth excuse me, like Pennsylvania where you get a lot of more middle of the road voters here I think people are just tired --




BLITZER: Let's remind our viewers how important potentially going into the next U.S. Senate. This Senate primary is tonight, this Republican primary in Pennsylvania.

SMERCONISH: Wolf, it's not a dramatic and inflated statement to say that control of the United States Senate may reside on exactly what happens in Pennsylvania, not just tonight, but in November as well.

HUNT: Yes.

SMERCONISH: I think it could all come down to the Commonwealth.

HUNT: If we could -- I mean, I think I would not be surprised Wolf if we're all sitting here having this same conversation about this Senate race coming up November.

BLITZER: This is the seat that to me, the incumbent Republican is giving up he's not seeking --

SMERCONISH: I think he saw this coming.

BLITZER: -- reelection.

SMERCONISH: I think that he saw this coming, he didn't want to play in this environment probably worried about whether he could survive a primary and that's where we are.


HUNT: A lot of Republicans.

BLITZER: We're watching very closely.

Moments ago we saw the early leader in the GOP Senate primary in Pennsylvania. We're talking about Dave McCormick. We're expecting more votes in that critical race at any moment. Now our special primary coverage will continue right after this.