Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and the long-time host of The Dr. Oz Show, will enter the Republican primary to replace retiring Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, he announced Tuesday.
“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,” Oz said in a video posted to Twitter. The campaign marks Oz’s first foray into electoral politics, but he previously served on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.
I’m running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania because America needs a Conservative Republican to cure what’s wrong with Washington. I’m a world-class surgeon, fighter, and health care advocate stepping forward to cure our country’s ills. Watch my announcement video now! pic.twitter.com/yLhKsZm9sl
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) November 30, 2021
Oz cited the federal mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic as a key part of his decision to run for office.
“COVID has shown us that our system is broken,” he said. “We lost too many lives, too many jobs, and too many opportunities because Washington got it wrong. They took away our freedom without making us safer, and tried to kill our spirit and our dignity.”
Oz came under fire in 2020 for his promotion of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. Doctors associated with the Food and Drug Administration warned against using the anti-malarial drug, citing serious potential side effects and an uncertain impact on COVID-19.
Oz enters a wide open Senate race for Toomey’s seat, following former Army Ranger Sean Parnell’s withdrawal from the race. Parnell, who is facing an acrimonious divorce and custody battle, said in a statement that he couldn’t continue with his campaign due to a judge’s concern that he would be unable to be a successful single parent while running for office. Parnell had been endorsed by Trump.
Real estate developer Jeff Bartos remains in the Republican primary, as does former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands. Former Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and current Bridgewater Associates CEO David McCormick is also believed to be considering a run.