Celebrity surgeon Dr. Oz running for Senate in Pennsylvania
HARRISBURG (AP) - Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon best known as the host of TV’s “Dr. Oz Show” after rocketing to fame on Oprah Winfrey’s show, announced Tuesday that he is running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat as a Republican.
Oz, 61, will bring his unrivaled name recognition and wealth to a wide-open race that is expected to be among the nation’s most competitive and could determine control of the Senate in next year’s election.
Oz - a longtime New Jersey resident - enters a Republican field that is resetting with an influx of candidates and a new opportunity to appeal to voters loyal to former President Donald Trump, now that the candidate endorsed by Trump has just exited the race.
In a one-minute video message on social media, Oz casts himself as a sort of champion for people’s health, who “took on the medical establishment to argue against costly drugs and skyrocketing medical bills” and is prepared to fight a government that he said has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oz also makes a pitch to Trump loyalists - and possibly Trump, too - by invoking Trump’s slogan for his governing philosophy, “America first.”
“As a heart surgeon, I know how precious life is,” Oz says. “Pennsylvania needs a conservative who will put America first, one who can reignite our divine spark, bravely fight for freedom and tell it like it is.”
Oz was planning to put his wealth to work immediately, airing the video on TV screens across Pennsylvania as part of a multimillion dollar ad buy, a campaign aide said.
Oz in recent days has told associates and Republicans in Pennsylvania of his plans and his campaign said he has lived and voted in Pennsylvania since last year.
As one of the nation’s biggest presidential electoral prizes, Pennsylvania put Democrat Joe Biden over the top in last year’s election. His 1 percentage point victory put the swing state back in Democratic hands after Trump won it even more narrowly in 2016.
Oz’s resume is dizzying: heart surgeon, author of New York Times bestsellers, Emmy-winning TV show host, radio talk show host, presidential appointee, founder of a national nonprofit to educate teens about healthy habits and self-styled ambassador for wellness.
Still, Oz may have to explain why he isn’t running for office in New Jersey, where he has lived for the past two decades before he began voting in Pennsylvania’s elections this year by absentee ballot, registered to his in-laws’ address in suburban Philadelphia.
It is not clear how, legally, Oz claims to live in Pennsylvania to register to vote, and a campaign aide did not immediately explain it.