By VICTOR SKINNER
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz has joined the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race after weeks of speculation and the recent exit of former President Donald Trump-endorsed candidate Sean Parnell.
Dr. Oz made the announcement in a column for The Washington Examiner in which he touted his background as a child of Turkish immigrants and his career as a medical doctor.
“We are angry at our government and at each other,” Dr. Oz wrote Tuesday. “We have not managed our crises as effectively as past generations. During the pandemic, I learned that when you mix politics and medicine, you get politics instead of solutions. That’s why I am running for the U.S. Senate: to help fix the problems and to help us heal.”
Dr. Oz is running as a Republican, joining a dozen other conservative candidates to replace Sen. Pat Toomey, who is not seeking re-election. The announcement came about a week after Mr. Parnell suspended his campaign amid a custody battle for his three children.
Fourteen other candidates are running in the Democratic primary.
The 2022 U.S. Senate election to replace Sen. Toomey could have significant consequences in an upper chamber currently split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris providing the tie-breaking vote for Democrats.
Dr. Oz wrote about his frustrations with how the government handled the COVID-19 pandemic and why it compelled him to join the race.
“The reality of our challenges has crystallized during the pandemic. Over 750,000 in the United States have died from the virus, a devastating toll for families and communities. Many of those deaths were preventable,” he wrote. “COVID-19 became an excuse for the government and elite thinkers who controlled the means of communication to suspend debate. Dissenting opinions from leading scholars were ridiculed and canceled so their ideas could not be disseminated.
“Instead, the government mandated policies that caused unnecessary suffering. The public was patronized and misled instead of empowered. We were told to lock down quietly and let those in charge take care of the rest. When we tested positive for the virus, we were also told to wait at home until our lips turned blue and we got sick enough to warrant hospitalization. To be clear, this is not a typical medical protocol.”
Dr. Oz, a nine-time Emmy award winner, rose to fame as a health expert on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” before launching his own daily TV program, “The Dr. Oz Show,” in 2009. He earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a master’s in business administration from the university’s Warton School in the 1980s. He has since developed patented devices and procedures for heart surgery, and authored eight New York Times bestsellers.
Dr. Oz, who lives in Bryn Athyn in Montgomery County, was appointed by President Trump to the Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition in 2018.
While much of his announcement centered on the government’s response to the pandemic, Dr. Oz also took aim at the broader cultural issues permeating society, making it clear he plans to focus on promoting the traditional values that contributed to his success.
“We must confront those who want to change the very soul of America and reimagine it with their toxic ideology. We need to fight for the benefit of our descendants,” he wrote. “We have fumbled the baton we’re supposed to pass to our children. And I want to pick up that baton and start racing toward our promising future.”