Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz described himself for the first time Friday as the party’s ”presumptive nominee,” even though a recount in his razor-thin primary contest is only getting started.

Oz, the celebrity doctor, leads former hedge fund executive David McCormick by fewer than 1,000 votes — or one-tenth of one percentage point — well within the 0.5% margin that triggers an automatic recount. It’s the seventh such recount since a 2004 state law set that threshold.

And while each of those recounts ended with the candidate who initially led as the final victor, the margin in this race is the slimmest to ever head to a recount in Pennsylvania.

Oz made the claim in a campaign video in which he thanked supporters and looked ahead to the general election.

“I am blessed to have earned the presumptive Republican nomination for the United States Senate. This was a tough campaign, I traveled everywhere,” he said. “You guys were pretty honest sharing with me. ... You want to make sure that the person you elect will stand up for what you believe is important. I am here to tell you that I am going to do that, but more importantly, I am going to reach to every corner of this Commonwealth.”

McCormick, who along with Oz is waging a county-by-county fight over which ballots to count, released a statement Wednesday calling the race “razor-thin.”

“This narrow difference triggers an automatic recount,” he said, “and we look forward to a swift resolution.”

» READ MORE: The Pa. Republican Senate primary is heading to a recount with Oz narrowly ahead of McCormick. Here’s what to expect.

Oz released the video as elections officials in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties geared up for the recount — Philadelphia’s will start Sunday — and a federal appeals court issued a key opinion explaining its May 20 ruling in a Lehigh County judicial race ordering that mail ballots be counted even if voters didn’t date the mailing envelopes as required by state law. That ruling rocked the razor-thin Senate primary by raising the question of whether such undated mail ballots should be counted in this race — something McCormick is arguing for as he seeks to close the gap, and Oz is arguing against.

Further complicating the situation, one of the Lehigh candidates, David Ritter, asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to delay the Third Circuit’s decision from taking effect while he appeals. Ritter is represented by lawyers from Kleinbard LLC, the same firm that represents the Oz campaign.

The nationally watched primary between Oz and McCormick will determine who faces off against the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, in a general election battle that will help determine which party controls the Senate.

Oz, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, shared his new video on Twitter, saying, “It’s time to unite.”

He’d been encouraged by Trump to prematurely declare victory the day after the election.

“Dr. Oz should declare victory. It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they ‘just happened to find,’ ” Trump said on Truth Social, the social media platform he helped found. The former president made the remark the day after the May 17 primary.

Ballots are not found; they are lawfully counted, if sometimes slowly.

The recount must be completed by June 7.

In Philadelphia, officials say they will kick off their recount on Sunday afternoon. It will be largely completed within a few hours, said city elections chief Lisa Deeley.

That will leave just a handful of votes, fewer than 100, that can’t be counted until Tuesday. These were ballots with issues whose eligibility was voted upon Friday by elections officials. There’s a two-day appeal period before those can actually be counted, so they won’t be counted — and then immediately recounted — until Tuesday afternoon.

Many counties had been preparing to start Tuesday or Wednesday. Delaware County is set to begin its recount on Wednesday. Montgomery County will test equipment for the recount on Wednesday before it starts retallying votes on Thursday.

The opinion issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit focused on the 2021 general election for a judgeship in Lehigh County. In that race, elections officials rejected 275 ballots that arrived on time but did not have dates on the mailing envelopes. Rejecting those undated mail ballots violated the federal Civil Rights Act, the court said.

“Ignoring ballots because the outer envelope was undated, even though the ballot was indisputably received before the deadline for voting serves no purpose other than disenfranchising otherwise qualified voters,” Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel. “This is exactly the type of disenfranchisement that Congress sought to prevent.”

Several state courts in Pennsylvania have upheld the dating requirement as a reason for rejecting ballots.

But McKee described the way the state requirement is applied as nonsensical. For example, while undated ballots are rejected, those with incorrect dates are counted.

In court filings Friday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, Ritter, the Lehigh candidate, described McKee’s reasoning as “a novel interpretation” of federal statutes that would let federal courts “set aside any state election law they deem ‘immaterial.’ ”

“It splits with Pennsylvania courts’ interpretation of the same federal statute in this same election,” his attorneys wrote. “It also changes the rules after the election ended.”

Meanwhile, the McCormick and Oz legal teams disagree about the significance of the opinion and to what extent it applies to their race.

McCormick, who has outperformed Oz in mail ballots, has cited the Third Circuit ruling in asking both the Pennsylvania Commonwealth and Supreme Courts this week to require that undated ballots be counted statewide in the recount.

Oz, as well as the state and national Republican Parties, have opposed McCormick’s move. In filings Friday, Thomas W. King, an Oz campaign lawyer, argued that the Third Circuit’s decision was wrong, state law was clear, and that undated mail ballots should be rejected.

The Commonwealth Court has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Tuesday.