Dr. Oz launches campaign in Pennsylvania for open US Senate seat

Written By Zack Lawry, Co-News Editor

On Nov. 30, 2021, Dr. Mehmet Oz announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat in the 2022 election. Oz is most well known as the host of the Dr. Oz Show, a daytime talk show.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Dr. Oz rose to fame after appearing as a guest ‘medical expert’ on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” before having his own television show, according to The Doctor Oz Show’s official website.

In addition, his website also lists that Oz “has been named Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Forbes’ most influential celebrity, Esquire magazine’s 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century, a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, Harvard’s 100 Most Influential Alumni, as well as receiving the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and AARP 50 Influential People Over 50.”

Although Oz has built a successful career as a surgeon and a television personality, the announcement of his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat is his first foray into politics.

“I’m running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania because America needs a Conservative Republican to cure what’s wrong with Washington,” Oz said in a tweet announcing his candidacy. “I’m a world-class surgeon, fighter, and health care advocate stepping forward to cure our country’s ills.”

Although Oz will officially be on the ballot for the 2022 election, Point Park history professor Ed Meena is skeptical of Oz’s candidacy.

“He has to establish how he is a credible candidate for the Senate, and then secondly, how he is a credible candidate for the Senate seat in Pennsylvania when he doesn’t live here,” Meena said. “I mean, to me, that’s gonna be a pretty big hurdle to get over.”

After current U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R) announced his intention to retire in October of 2020, a steady stream of potential candidates have emerged to run for his position. On the Democratic side, John Fetterman and Conor Lamb stand out as early favorites, while the announcement of Republican forerunners and recent scandals have only recently begun to come into the public eye.

On November 22, Sean Parnell suspended his campaign for the open U.S. Senate seat. Parnell had been a frontrunner to win the Republican primary and was endorsed by former president Donald Trump in September, according to CNN. However, a recent custody battle between Parnell and his estranged wife over their children ended Parnell’s campaign when the judge ruled unfavorably toward Parnell, who announced the suspension of his campaign in order to devote his attention to an appeal. .

With a high-profile candidate out of contention, the Republican field became more competitive without a clear favorite—which is when Oz stepped in.

Just over a week after Parnell’s departure from the race, Oz formally announced his intention to run. Oz’s announcement received mixed reactions. To many Republicans, Oz may be the party’s best shot at maintaining Toomey’s seat.

According to Politico, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voiced his support for Oz’s candidacy.

“It’s a good sign for the Republican Party that somebody of his standing and stature would want to run under the Republican banner,” Graham said. “He’s got an incredible background and personal story. It’s good news for the Republican Party, and I think he’d be very competitive.”

Although there has been support for Oz, others have been concerned by Oz’s lack of political background as a television celebrity entering politics for the first time.

Senior dance major Olivia Brookes is among those critical of Oz’s decision to run.

“Celebrities are going into these positions without any prior experience,” Brookes said. “People who are going to have these higher positions of power need to have some kind of exposure to that kind of work beforehand so they know the in’s and out’s and how to properly manage everything. I feel like if celebrities are jumping into these positions with no prior experience, they might not be as successful as others with more prior experience.”

Along with Brookes, Samantha Hindman, a sophomore journalism major, has also disproved of Oz’s campaign within Pennsylvania.

“Dr. Oz’s candidacy, should it prove successful, is nothing more than a further demonstration of the already commonly known principle that the American people are easily persuaded by the glitz and glamor of celebrity culture as opposed to genuine qualifications when it comes to electing officials,” Hindman said.

Instead, Hindman said she believes that a more qualified candidate with more experience is a better fit for the office.

“John Fetterman is the obvious choice in my opinion, his work in Braddock and his sincere efforts and ideas to help PA’s working class are not something to overlook,” she said. “I think he has a real chance of appealing to blue-collar workers on both the left and the right, which is something that’s not only important in a general sense but especially so here in PA, where oftentimes the outcomes of elections can really vary politically.”

Additionally, concerns have been raised about Oz’s past as a medical expert. After Oz announced his campaign, Business Insider published a list of “false or baseless medical claims” Oz has made in the past. The list includes a (now deleted) tweet in which Oz supported astrology as having the potential to “reveal a great deal about our health,” as well endorsing the controversial hydroxychloroquine as an effective COVID-19 treatment despite a lack of evidence.

Professor Meena said he thinks that specific issues will be difficult for Oz to deal with when he has to commit to certain stances.

“He may be an attention grabber until he starts to have to make specific statements as to where he stands on certain issues,” Meena said. “I mean, if he says Washington got it wrong [about the pandemic], be specific. What are you talking about? Where did they get it wrong? I mean, to me, that’s a ludicrous statement. The fact of the matter is, you have people that resist Facui, resistance science. And only when it became so obvious that this thing is real, and it’s not going away, did you actually have some positive steps in the direction. So I don’t really know how he’s going to spin that. I look forward to listening to his explanation.”

Further issue has been taken with Oz’s status as a Pennsylvania resident. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Oz moved to Pennsylvania in 2020 and had “registered to vote in Pennsylvania, has acquired a driver’s license, concealed carry gun permit, and medical license in the state.” However, social media posts regularly place him at his New Jersey mansion or in New York, where he films his show.

“I want to run for Senate to address the major issues we face in America, and the prognosis is good,” Oz said. “I feel more upbeat about America today than I have in a long time. We’ve got to start seeing the divine spark in each other again.”