Dr. Oz Announces Run for U.S. Senate Seat in Pennsylvania as Republican

Dr. Mehmet Oz, best known as the host of TV's Dr. Oz Show and celebrity heart surgeon, announced Tuesday that he is running for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat as a Republican, the Associated Press reported.

Oz, 61, posted a video message on social media, said he is prepared to fight a government that he said has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic and used former President Donald Trump's own slogan, "America first," to ignite Trump loyalists.

"As a heart surgeon, I know how precious life is," Oz said. "Pennsylvania needs a conservative who will put America first, one who can reignite our divine spark, bravely fight for freedom and tell it like it is."

Rumors of Oz's plan to run started when he reportedly told associates and Republicans in Pennsylvania, according to two people who spoke to AP. One of the people was told directly by Oz, while the other was briefed in a separate conversation. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

Montgomery County GOP Chair Elizabeth Preate Havey said Oz told her on Friday that he would run. Separately, he spoke with Allegheny County's GOP chair, Sam DeMarco, who said Oz did not directly say he would run, but "he left me with no doubt that he is going to be running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania."

Oz, a longtime New Jersey resident, has not explained why he is not running in the state where he has lived for the past two decades. But this year, Oz began voting in Pennsylvania's elections by absentee ballot, registered to his in-law's address in suburban Philadelphia.

Oz will enter a GOP field that is in a time of reset, with an influx of candidates and new opportunities to appeal to voters who remain loyal to Trump, whose endorsed candidate, Sean Parnell, recently exited the race.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Dr. Oz
Dr. Mehmet Oz, best known as the host of TV’s Dr. Oz Show and celebrity heart surgeon, is planning to run for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat. Above, Oz at the 14th annual L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Gala in New York on December 4, 2019. Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press

Oz brings his unrivaled name recognition and wealth to a wide-open race that is expected to be among the nation's most competitive in next year's election and could determine control of the Senate.

Oz's resume is dizzying: heart surgeon, author of New York Times bestsellers, Emmy-winning TV show host, radio talk show host, presidential appointee, founder of a national nonprofit to educate teens about healthy habits and self-styled ambassador for wellness.

He was appointed by Trump to the presidential Council on Sports, Fitness and Health, guest-hosted the Jeopardy! game show and helped save a dying man at Newark Liberty International Airport last winter.

As one of the nation's biggest presidential electoral prizes, Pennsylvania put Democrat Joe Biden over the top in last year's election. His 1-point victory put the swing state back in Democratic hands after Trump won it even more narrowly in 2016.

Oz's longtime home is above the Hudson River in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, overlooking Manhattan, where he films his TV show and practices medicine. Oz became a household name after gaining fame as a guest on Oprah Winfrey's show.

Oz's appetite to expand his business portfolio is voracious, with critics saying he often promotes questionable products and medical advice.

He has been dogged by accusations that he is a charlatan selling "quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain," a group of doctors wrote in 2015 in a letter calling for his firing from Columbia University's medical school. He wasn't fired.

Oz began making regular appearances on Fox News after the start of the pandemic, and in the spring of 2020 came under fire for comments suggesting that reopening schools might be worth the extra deaths, because it "may only cost us 2 percent to 3 percent in terms of total mortality."

Researchers from the University of Alberta found in 2014 that, of 80 randomly selected recommendations from Oz's shows, often dietary advice, roughly half was unsupported by evidence, or contradicted by it.

In any case, Oz will be part of an influx of Republican candidates who, until recently at least, did not live in Pennsylvania, but, perhaps more importantly, are rich.

As Oz moves to enter the race, a hedge fund CEO who lives in Connecticut, David McCormick, is working his way across Pennsylvania this week meeting with Republican officials in expectation of returning to his native state to run.

The most prominent Republicans already running were conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, real estate investor Jeff Bartos and Carla Sands, Trump's wealthy ambassador to Denmark and fundraiser who has recently returned to her native Pennsylvania after spending most of the past four decades in California.

Of them, none has won elective office before, and only Bartos has run statewide in Pennsylvania, as lieutenant governor on the GOP's losing gubernatorial ticket in 2018.

The Democratic field has been stable since August, and features candidates with far more electoral experience—although far less personal wealth—than the Republican field. Their best-known candidates are John Fetterman, the state's lieutenant governor, and U.S. Representative Conor Lamb of suburban Pittsburgh.

Oz was born in Cleveland, the son of a heart surgeon who emigrated from Turkey.

He attended high school in Delaware and Harvard University as a college undergraduate, also playing football there, and served in the Turkish army to maintain his dual citizenship.

Oz's wife is also the daughter of a prominent heart surgeon, and the two met in Philadelphia through their fathers when Oz attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.

Update 11/30/2021, 4:45 p.m. ET: This article was updated to add comments from a video message by Oz.