As he’s running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, Mehmet Oz currently has something that few candidates have: the campaign trail all to himself.
John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and Oz’s opponent, suffered a stroke just days before his substantial Democratic primary victory in May, which forced him to take time off to recover. Though active on social media, Fetterman has yet to return to large-scale campaigning. But he made an appearance at a Philadelphia fundraiser last week, prompting speculation that he’ll be back to a normal schedule soon.
But recent reporting suggests that Oz might not have taken advantage of those several weeks where Fetterman was sidelined, a significant span of time during a race that could be integral to party control of the Senate.
Puck is reporting that the former TV personality was in Palm Beach, Florida, until June 9 at least, not holding his first post-primary event until June 10. Oz reportedly also traveled to Ireland to visit family at the end of June and did not return until early July.
The trips have allegedly frustrated the National Republican Senatorial Committee and even former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz during the close Republican primary, according to Puck. A spokesman for the NRSC pushed back on that characterization and Oz recently released his first general-election ad in conjunction with the group.
Oz’s campaign events seemed to have picked up since then with the former surgeon making several stops in crucial collar counties like Delaware and Montgomery counties and multiple visits to parts of Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold. Oz’s visit to Pat’s and Geno’s, a pair of well-known cheesesteak shops, quickly went viral following a joke from Fetterman who likened Oz to a tourist. (His campaign has been plagued by claims of carpetbagging due to his longtime residency in New Jersey. Oz has since purchased a home in Pennsylvania.)
It remains to be seen if the uptick in appearances will help to boost the Oz campaign. A new poll sponsored by Fox News shows Fetterman with a double-digit lead, 47 percent to Oz’s 36 percent. And the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that Oz also trailed Fetterman in fundraising, raising only $3.8 million from April to June. That number includes $2.2 million that Oz loaned to his campaign.
It’s still to early to tell whether or not the first-time political candidate will be able to pull ahead of Fetterman this fall. If he can’t, wherever Oz wants to travel next year, the only place it won’t be is to Capitol Hill.