Is this really the best Pennsylvania Republicans can do?
After Trump-endorsed “family man” Sean Parnell suspended his campaign for Pennsylvania’s 2023 Senate seat last fall, the Republican primary was left wide open. Soon after this, television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz entered the race and secured the nomination in a narrow primary victory. Though the state and national Republican Parties have rallied behind Oz, they fail to realize that he’s an utterly terrible candidate, even by their already low standards.
The most glaring problem with Oz is that he has no connection to Pennsylvania. Sure, he’s registered to vote in the state, but there’s nothing else there. Oz is a longtime resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, and is still listed as an active voter there on the New Jersey Divisions of Elections website. His campaign website claims that he lives in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, but don’t be fooled — Oz is a full-on carpetbagger. He’s tried to refute this claim, but hasn’t made this easy for himself by filming campaign ads from his New Jersey mansion.
While some candidates have won elections despite clear carpetbagging, Oz’s Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor and actual Pennsylvania resident John Fetterman, has turned the issue into a central talking point of the Senate race. Fetterman even started a petition to induct Oz into the New Jersey Hall of Fame (which I’ve signed at least five times).
Even if Oz was a lifelong Pennsylvania resident, he’d still be a terrible candidate since he’s got the ideological backbone of a jellyfish. Prior to his campaign, Oz held relatively liberal positions on issues such as abortion rights and climate change. He even hosted Michelle Obama as a guest on “The Dr. Oz Show.”
However, all of this was immediately cast aside when he released his campaign announcement video, which upon first watch feels like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. He branded himself as “A conservative who will put America first,” and used the typical empty Republican rhetoric about COVID-19 mandates, the failures of Washington and being a political outsider. He continued this on the campaign trail, where he flipped all his previously liberal stances to more conservative ones. He changed course on many issues so quickly that you’d think he’s a seasoned politician instead of a first-time candidate.
Of course, this deliberate branding and flip-flopping on the issues was done with the sole purpose of earning the Trump endorsement, which seems to be the most important factor in a Republican primary these days. It ultimately worked, as Trump endorsed Oz in April, propelling him to the Republican nomination (albeit only by 950 votes). Oz’s strategy is typical of any Republican candidate that wants to win —shift your views far enough to the right in order to please Trump and get his endorsement and win a primary. He’s certainly not the first to do so, and probably won’t be the last.
What really drives the nail in the coffin of Oz as a candidate is that he’s been running a terrible public relations campaign since winning the nomination. His campaign posts make him look like an out-of-touch tourist, which makes sense since, as, to reiterate, he’s not from Pennsylvania. Here’s a word of advice, Dr. Oz: If you’re trying to win over voters in Philadelphia, going to Pat’s and Geno’s isn’t going to help, since most self-respecting Philadelphians will tell you that they both suck.
But the lowest point of them all was the “Crudité video,” which featured Oz grocery shopping at “Wegner’s” (which isn’t a real store) to buy vegetables while complaining about the high price. The video epitomizes how Dr. Oz has appeared during this campaign — an out-of-touch millionaire who can’t connect to working class Pennsylvanian voters. If he really wants to connect with these voters, he should probably avoid words like “crudité” that make him sound like an upper class snob and just call it what it is: A vegetable plate. Maybe, just maybe, he’d be a little more relatable to the working class.
To sum it up, Dr. Oz has all of the worst qualities in a candidate. He’s out-of-touch with the people of Pennsylvania, he’s spineless on the issues, and he’s not even from the state. I shiver at the thought of him as a United States Senator.