Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz (R-Pa.) announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate today. The announcement follows weeks of growing rumors that the practicing cardiothoracic surgeon and daytime television host would realize his political aspirations and run as part of the Republican party.
“During the pandemic, I learned that when you mix politics and medicine, you get politics instead of solutions,” Oz wrote in an op-ed published by the Washington Examiner, a conservative news website and tabloid.
In his announcement video, Oz cites grievances with the handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a motivating factor. “They took away our freedom without making us safer,” he says while equating lost jobs with deaths due to government inaction.
Oz was a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump, whose administration oversaw the initial federal response. In a widely criticized appointment, Oz was previously given a seat on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition in both 2018 and 2020.
Oz plays up his work as a television personality despite condemnation from the medical community that his show promotes pseudoscience. In 2015, over 1,300 doctors signed an open letter to Columbia University condemning Oz’s lack of integrity in promoting sensational and unscientific products, calling his faculty position at Columbia University unacceptable.
Oz is running to replace the seat of retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey. Former Alaska governor Sean Parnell dropped out of the race after receiving an endorsement from the former president.