The television personality endorsed by Donald Trump won the GOP primary to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.
Longtime New Jerseyan Mehmet Oz has been declared the winner of the Pennsylvania Republican primary to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey after fellow candidate Dave McCormick conceded the race late on June 3.
Oz will face Democratic candidate and current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in the general election in November.
The primary was held May 17, but, due to the closeness of the race, remained in limbo until McCormick's concession. With most of the recount complete, Oz had a lead of less than 1,000 votes (0.1%) over the Connecticut-based hedge fund CEO and just 31.2% of the vote overall.
Oz promoted medically questionable health advice for more than a decade on his "Dr. Oz Show" before moving to Pennsylvania and announcing his 2022 Senate candidacy. His narrow primary victory came after former President Donald Trump alienated many of his own strongest supporters by endorsing Oz.
Trump argued that the celebrity doctor was qualified to be a U.S. senator because of his fame. "You know when you're in television for 18 years, that's like a poll. That means people like you," he asserted.
Angry Trump fans roundly booed Oz at a campaign rally on May 6, and more than two-thirds of the primary electorate voted for someone else.
Oz was twice appointed by Trump to the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, but was fired by President Joe Biden for violating a law that states a sitting member of the council cannot run for partisan political office.
Though he previously defended abortion rights and LGBTQ equality, Oz is now running as an opponent of both. He has embraced Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, insisting, "I have discussed it with President Trump and we cannot move on. ... We have to be serious about what happened in 2020, and we won't be able to address that until we can really look under the hood."
Oz has criticized high drug prices, but accepted $5,800 in campaign donations — the legal maximum — from Nirmal Mulye, a pharmaceutical executive who once claimed his company had a "moral requirement" to quadruple the cost of its antibiotic.
After the deadly mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school in May, Oz tweeted, "We need to ensure our kids are protected from these senseless acts of violence and feel safe in our schools." But his campaign site notes his strong support for unrestricted access to firearms: "He opposes anti-gun measures like red flag laws and liberal gun grabs. Dr. Oz knows we cannot compromise our ability to protect ourselves."
In a statement on Friday, Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Jack Doyle blasted Oz as "a scam artist and a fraud who is only ever looking out for himself. He's a self-serving millionaire who has made a fortune peddling quack treatments and baseless claims that endanger people's health, and his politics are just as damaging: supporting banning abortion and pushing Donald Trump's conspiracies about the 2020 election."
The Democratic primary was a quieter affair. Fetterman, a former AmeriCorps member and mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, emphasized his strong support for universal health care, cannabis legalization, LGBTQ equality, criminal justice reform, abortion rights, and a higher minimum wage.
"I haven't had to 'evolve' on the issues, because I've always said what I believe is true and I've been championing the same core principles for the last 20 years," he said.
With almost 59% of the vote, he easily defeated Rep. Conor Lamb, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Jenkintown Borough Councilor Alex Khalil.
Fetterman, who had a pacemaker installed in May following a minor stroke, released a letter on Friday from his cardiologist that said he "should be able to campaign and serve in the U.S. Senate without a problem" as long as he continues to follow medical advice.
The general election race is likely to be close in a state narrowly won by President Joe Biden in 2020. With the Senate split at 50-50, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes, the seat could decide control of the Senate in 2023.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.