Meet Mehmet: Dr. Oz Vying for US Senate in Pennsylvania After Trump-Endorsed Candidate Drops Out
03:30 GMT 04.12.2021 (Updated: 03:14 GMT 14.01.2022)
© AP Photo / Richard ShotwellDr. Mehmet Oz, winner of the award for outstanding informative talk show for "The Dr. Oz Show," poses in the press room at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center on Sunday, April 30, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif.
© AP Photo / Richard Shotwell
Celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Öz, popularly known as 'Dr. Oz,' confirmed in a November 30 op-ed that he would run for the US Senate in his home state of Pennsylvania to, as he put it, help the US "heal" following the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic that has polarized an already-divided nation.
Dr. Oz, physician to Hollywood superstars and host of 'The Dr. Oz Show,' bagged his first congressional endorsement this week, signaling that the television doctor may have a shot at securing the GOP nomination ahead of the 2022 midterm election in the state of Pennsylvania.
“I’m endorsing Dr. Oz for Senate because Dr. Oz is our clearest path to victory in this election,” Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) told the New York Post on Wednesday.
Reschenthaler declared that Oz - similar to former US President Donald Trump - is in a special position as he is entering the race "with almost nearly universal name identification," which may be a game-changer for the Republican primary.
"Additionally, Dr. Oz is coming in with his incredible American success story having invented a heart valve that saved countless lives," he said of Oz, whose parents migrated to the US from Turkey's Konya Province.
Oz tweeted his thanks to Reschenthaler for his endorsement.
Oz is seeking to fill the spot soon to be vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the 60-year-old US lawmaker who announced in October 2020 that he would not seek reelection.
The cardiothoracic surgeon's campaign comes not long after Sean Parnell, the only Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania endorsed by Trump, announced that he would suspend his campaign.
Parnell's announcement came after a judge found his estranged wife's domestic abuse allegations credible.
As Oz hopes to make his move from TV to Washington, his unexpected campaign and seemingly newfound political aspirations have raised eyebrows among those in both local and national media.
Earlier this week, CBS' Stephen Colbert took aim at Oz during a Tuesday broadcast of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," calling out the physician's long list of problematic promotions, including his recent backing of the debunked hydroxychloroquine cure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colbert also called out Oz's residence, stating that the celebrity medico "may not just have fake medical claims, he may have fake Pennsylvania claims."
Days later, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a piece highlighting that, despite his current campaign in Pennsylvania, Oz has primarily lived in New Jersey for the past three decades.
Although it is standard practice for candidates to campaign in a state that has been their home for several years, Oz's family made their move to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, home in late 2020.
Despite Oz's wealth, he and his wife, Lisa Oz, pay "market price" rent at the Bryn Athyn home that is owned by his spouse's parents, according to the Inquirer, citing a campaign spokesperson for the cardiothoracic surgeon.
Per the state's constitution, Oz will only be required to "inhabit" Pennsylvania if he wins the US Senate seat.
Celebrity TV host Oprah Winfrey was also brought into the conversation, as the media maven notably accelerated Oz's television career after she appeared on his Discovery Channel series "Second Opinion with Dr. Oz," which ran for a single season and featured notable guests such as Winfrey, basketball legend and businessman Magic Johnson, and actor Charlie Sheen.
Additionally, Oz increased his media visibility and amassed a large following due to regular appearances on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show.' The heart surgeon made more than 60 appearances on the daytime talk show, which ran until 2011.
© AP Photo / Evan AgostiniHost Oprah Winfrey, center, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, left, react to seeing Dr. Phil McGraw with his moustache shaved off during "The Oprah Winfrey Show" live from Radio City Music Hall, Friday, May 7, 2010 in New York.
Host Oprah Winfrey, center, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, left, react to seeing Dr. Phil McGraw with his moustache shaved off during "The Oprah Winfrey Show" live from Radio City Music Hall, Friday, May 7, 2010 in New York.
© AP Photo / Evan Agostini
By 2009, Oz was able to launch 'The Dr. Oz Show' with Sony Pictures Television and Winfrey's Harpo Productions. The syndicated daily TV program remains in production to this day and routinely addresses health and wellness issues, as well as celebrity-focused medical testimonies and true crime stories.
While Oz is a household name in the US, he is not the only individual vying for the Republican nomination ahead of the 2022 midterm election in Pennsylvania. Hedge-fund manager David McCormick, real estate developer Jeff Bartos, investment firm CEO Carla Sands, and political commentator Kathy Barnette are among the GOP candidates who have announced campaigns.