2022 elections

New Jersey’s Dr. Oz to Enter Pennsylvania Senate Race

The doctor is IN. Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the name-brand surgeon best known for his association with Oprah and his long history of peddling pseudoscientific cures, will run for Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican next year.

In a Washington Times op-ed officially announcing his bid for the seat, Oz points to his family’s immigrant roots, his impressive medical background, and rise to popularity as host of his own daily TV show — leaving out the quackery part. He also previews some of the issues he’ll be hammering on the campaign trail. Oz goes hard against COVID-19 lockdowns:

Elites with yards told those without yards to stay inside, where the virus was more likely to spread. And the arrogant, closed-minded people in charge closed our parks, shuttered our schools, shut down our businesses, and took away our freedom.

He also advises that “we must confront those who want to change the very soul of America and reimagine it with their toxic ideology.” Oz does call COVID vaccines a “gift,” which may distinguish him from more extreme rivals. But he is careful to say that those vaccines were “made possible by President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed,” which is stretching the truth.

The 61-year-old Oz has long lived in New Jersey just across the Hudson River from New York, according to the AP, which reports that he “began voting in Pennsylvania’s elections this year by absentee ballot, registered to his in-laws’ address in suburban Philadelphia.” His rivals will undoubtedly accuse him of carpetbagging, but Oz has money and name recognition, and the Republican primary in the highly competitive race to replace retiring incumbent Pat Toomey is wide open. The favorite had been Trump-backed Sean Parnell, but he suspended his campaign last week after being denied custody of his children amid domestic-abuse allegations. A number of other candidates who have declared their intentions to run will now vie for that important endorsement.

As Intelligencer’s Ed Kilgore has noted, Oz boasts his own Trump connections. During the 2016 campaign, he had the candidate on his show, where he conducted a faux physical and proclaimed that Trump was in great health. (In the White House, he appointed Oz to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition.) More alarmingly, Oz promoted the bunk COVID remedy hydroxychloroquine at the beginning of the pandemic, apparently influencing Trump’s addled thinking on that matter.

Dr. Oz described himself as a “moderate Republican” back in 2007, but these days, being a GOP candidate in most states involves toeing the Trump line — which he appears ready to do. With his defiance of medical consensus, personal history with the former president, and considerable personal wealth, Oz could be formidable among people who agree with his definitely not over-the-top assessment that “America’s heartbeat is in a code red in need of a defibrillator to shock it back to life.”

New Jersey’s Dr. Oz to Enter Pennsylvania Senate Race