Television host Dr. Mehmet Oz announced his plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat representing Pennsylvania, which will be open as Republican Sen. Pat Toomey plans to retire. Oz, 61, made his announcement in an essay for The Washington Examiner, insisting that his medical training has "positioned me to make difficult decisions to help people in need and fight to empower my viewers." Oz has no previous political experience, although he did serve as a member of President Donald Trump's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition.
In his essay, Oz decried "government-mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering" during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the public was being "patronized and misled instead of empowered." He also believes America was not the "world leader on how to beat the pandemic" that it should have been, although he gave Trump's Operation Warp Speed kudos for vaccine research. Oz also said that Americans "cannot even say what we see anymore," calling that a "suffocating feeling."
"Doctors are trained to tell it like it is because you deserve to hear our best advice and make your own decisions," Oz wrote. "It's why I have fought the establishment my whole career. In this emergency, we needed capable leaders ready to act. We didn't get that. Sometimes, in medical emergencies, we will need to operate with swift and decisive action. Sometimes, we can use less invasive medications to correct course. Sometimes, we will use preventive health to stop problems from even emerging in the first place. We need to use all of our tools and tactics to get the job done in society, too."
At the end of his essay, Oz wrote that "we" have to "confront" people in charge who want to "change the very soul of America and reimagine it with their toxic ideology." He claimed that the U.S. has "fumbled the baton." He is running for the Senate to "empower you to control your destiny, to reinvigorate our great nation, and to reignite the divine spark that we should always be seeing in each other," he wrote. Notably, the essay includes no mention of Pennsylvania.
Rumors that Oz was planning to throw his hat in the race started earlier this month. Fox News host Sean Hannity also teased a "huge announcement" from Oz during Oz's upcoming Tuesday night appearance, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Oz has already hired campaign aids and reached out to Republican political leaders in Pennsylvania, sources told the Inquirer. Oz has lived in New Jersey, but only recently switched to vote in Montgomery County in December 2020. The University of Pennsylvania graduate's in-laws live in Bryn Athyn.
Oz reached national prominence thanks to his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which subsequently led to the launch of his own show in 2009, The Dr. Oz Show. He has been widely criticized for the medical advice shared on his show, particularly from other doctors who have called him out for promoting diet products. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he promoted hydroxychloroquine during Fox News appearances, even though the FDA said it was not effective to use against COVID-19.