Dr. Mehmet Oz, a celebrity physician best known for his “Dr. Oz Show,” announced Tuesday that he is running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.
Running as a Republican, Oz made the announcement a week after GOP candidate Sean Parnell abruptly suspended his bid after losing primary custody of his children in court. Parnell received endorsement from former President Donald Trump and was considered a leading candidate.
“COVID has shown us that our system is broken,” Oz said in his first campaign ad, saying “Washington got it wrong” and “they took away our freedom without making us safer.”
“As a heart surgeon, I know how precious life is. 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. That’s why I’m running for Senate,” Oz added.
On his website, Oz lists the main issues he’ll focus on, including combating COVID-19, fixing health care, growing the economy, stopping illegal immigration, improving education, supporting veterans, and getting tough on China—a typical conservative vision for a Republican candidate.
The 61-year-old candidate is also an author of New York Times bestsellers and an Emmy-winning TV show host. In 2018, Trump appointed Oz to the Presidential Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. He got reappointed by Trump in 2020.
Oz first gained his fame as a medical expert on Oprah Winfrey’s show before starting his own show in 2009.
Oz had lived in New Jersey for the past two decades before he began voting in Pennsylvania’s elections this year by absentee ballot, registered to his in-laws’ address in suburban Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania’s U.S. senator race is already crowded, with almost 30 candidates vying for an open seat to be vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Toomey announced his retirement last year before the general election.
The most prominent Republican candidates are conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, real estate investor Jeff Bartos, and Carla Sands, Trump’s wealthy fundraiser and ambassador to Denmark.
None of them has won elective office before. Only Bartos ran statewide in Pennsylvania for lieutenant governor in 2018.
Billionaire David McCormick, CEO of hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates, has been actively considering a run and made calls to local GOP leaders.
Top Democratic candidates are Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), who represents Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.