HARRISBURG, Pa. — Celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz announced he is running as a Republican for the 2022 race for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat on Nov. 30.
Oz brings a new level of celebrity to the open Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). In a video posted on social media, he cast himself as an outspoken conservative and champion for health.
The largest points of criticism are likely to come from his living outside the state and from his controversial medical advice.
He studied at the University of Pennsylvania for both his medical and business degrees and graduated in 1986. For the past two decades, he has lived in a northern New Jersey suburb of New York City, but last year registered to vote using his wife’s parents’ address in Bryn Athyn, a Philadelphia suburb in Montgomery County.
According to the Constitution, a Senator must be resident of their state at the time of election.
“If he were to become a resident between now and when he would be elected, then that would be constitutionally fine," Stephen Medvic, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs said. "But politically, I think this is going to be an issue for him."
Oz has touted scientifically unproven products such as green coffee pills for weight loss and hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, and received criticism for downplaying COVID-19’s deadliness last year, according to left-leaning group Committee to Protect Healthcare.
Oz is entering a crowded candidate field. Ten other Republicans have registered their campaigns and political donations with the FEC, as well as nine Democrats. All are competing in a politically purple state in an election that’s sure to grab national attention.
“Pennsylvania is going to kind of be ground zero in 2022 because we’ve got an open Senate race and an open gubernatorial race, so there’s going to be just a ton of money,” Medvic said.
Medvic expects at least $50 million will be spent on each party’s primary winner by the end of the election.
Though the race is still competitive, midterm elections tend to favor the party that’s out of power, currently Republicans. Low confidence in the economy also favors the opposite party of the president, and 17% of Pennsylvanians currently rate the economy as their greatest concern, according to an October Franklin & Marshall poll.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about the economy, even though it seems to be doing well by certain measures," Medvic said. "In other ways, there’s a lot of uncertainty with COVID and potential inflation."
The GOP field has already lost former President Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, Sean Parnell, who suspended his campaign after allegations of domestic abuse.