Pennsylvania Republicans are puzzled by Dr. Oz's possible Senate candidacy: report

Dr. Oz
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  • Dr. Oz has reportedly been making early moves to launch a potential Senate bid in Pa., per Politico.

  • However, Oz's behind-the-scenes positioning has been met with bemusement by some state Republicans.

  • A state GOP strategist said that overall, the response to Oz's entry to the race "has been 'LOL.'"

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality, is well-known across the United States for his daytime talk show, where he has given health and wellness advice for years.

However, according to a Politico report, Dr. Oz is looking to potentially jump into Pennsylvania's 2022 Senate race to succeed two-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, and he's already reportedly scouting the vote-rich Philadelphia suburbs for a home.

But Republicans — who have not had a heavyweight figure emerge in the race as of yet — are puzzled by a possible campaign from Oz, despite the candidate covertly scouting for a scheduler and policy director, according to an individual who was approached about the positions and spoke to Politico.

The race is crucial for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and top Republicans across the country as they see a GOP majority within grasp in the 2022 midterm elections, with Pennsylvania, a highly competitive swing state, high on their target list.

Although former President Donald Trump has already endorsed 2020 congressional candidate Sean Parnell in the race, Republican activists and donors are nervous about allegations that Parnell abused his wife and children, claims that he vehemently denies.

Jeff Bartos, a real estate developer who is running in the GOP primary, called Parnell "unelectable" after two temporary protection-from-abuse orders sought by Parnell's wife were issued in 2017 and 2018, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. After a hearing, neither of the orders were extended, and they were eventually expunged, per The Inquirer.

However, the attacks from Bartos could potentially create tension with conservative supporters of Parnell and Trump.

Carla Sands, who served as the US ambassador to Denmark under Trump, is a declared candidate, but has not attracted much attention in the race as of yet.

And former Rep. Ryan Costello, a moderate Republican from pivotal Chester County who served in Congress from 2015 to 2019, has long been rumored as a potential statewide candidate — but he has deeply alienated Trump.

Mehmet Oz
Dr. Oz.Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for USANA

Oz faces significant hurdles if he enters the race

The fluidity of the field has left Pennsylvania Republicans angling for a solution — although they're not sure Oz is their answer.

"I don't know a single politically involved person in Pennsylvania who's not being paid who wants to be involved in this effort," a state GOP strategist told Politico, stating that the "pretty much universal response has been 'LOL.'"

"There's no one who thinks the solution to the Sean Parnell issue is Dr. Oz," the strategist added.

A spokesman for Oz told The Washington Free Beacon, which first reported on a possible campaign by the doctor, that "Dr. Oz has received encouragement to run for the U.S. Senate, but is currently focused on our show and has no announcement at this time."

A top GOP aide in the state told Politico that Parnell's ongoing legal issues "kind of opened the door to other candidates considering jumping in."

"It's also to some degree a political consultant-driven process, so it behooves some of these firms to go out and find a wealthy, highly visible, well-known candidate to run them," the aide added.

An individual with ties to the Parnell campaign told Politico that the candidate would only exit the race if he lost custody of his children in court.

"His entire campaign comes down to whether he keeps custody of his kids or not," the individual said.

According to Politico, Oz is already being branded as a "carpetbagger" in some quarters, as he was registered to vote in New Jersey in 2020, casting an absentee ballot that October before registering to vote in Pennsylvania only two months later.

Oz has been called out in the past for promoting supplements on his television show that weren't definitely proven to worthwhile; he was scolded before a Senate consumer protection subcommittee hearing in 2014.

In April 2015, a group of doctors at the Columbia University Medical Center, where Oz serves on staff, issued a letter expressing dissatisfaction at his affiliation with the institution.

The group accused Oz of "manifesting an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain."

Oz forcefully defended himself from the criticism, dismissing any notion that he was acting in bad faith.

"I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves. We provide multiple points of view, including mine which is offered without conflict of interest. That doesn't sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts," he said in a statement at the time.

Read the original article on Business Insider