Dr. Mehmet Oz is likely to enter the high-stakes race for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat next year, according to state GOP insiders.
The 61-year-old cardiac surgeon, author and host of TV’s “Dr. Oz Show” may declare his candidacy as early as this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday, citing Republican sources in the Keystone State.
Oz — who would be vying to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey if he decides to run — has already hired campaign aides and reached out to Pennsylvania GOP leaders, several sources familiar with the matter told the newspaper.
The Republican field was shaken up earlier this month when the early front-runner, Sean Parnell, suspended his campaign after a judge ruled against him in a custody battle amid allegations that he had abused his estranged wife and three children.
Parnell, 40, had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump in August, and his unexpected withdrawal has left the GOP primary race unsettled.
“With the leading candidate getting out, that’s certainly going to create a reshuffling of the race here,” Sam DeMarco, chair of the Allegheny County Republican Party, told the Associated Press.
Oz’s political aides did not immediately respond Monday to inquiries about his potential run, the Inquirer reported. His agent and publicist could not be reached for comment early Tuesday.
If Oz does enter the race, he would do so with sizable name recognition and an estimated net worth of $100 million. He also earns a $20 million salary from his long-running TV show, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com.
Not much is known about his political beliefs, but Oz has apparently considered a run for some time. After living in New Jersey for years, Oz registered to vote in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County as a Republican last December, according to election records.
Oz has listed the home of his wife’s parents in Bryn Athyn as his residence and has voted twice by absentee ballot since that time. But he still films his show and practices medicine in Manhattan, and a spokesperson for his TV show has not expanded on his Pennsylvania residency, the Associated Press reported.
The GOP field already includes Montgomery County developer Jeff Bartos, former US ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, the Inquirer reported. Hedge-fund manager David McCormick, who lives in Connecticut, is also considering a run, but has not yet declared.
Oz said in 2007 that he would “consider” running for office one day, CNN reported, labeling himself a “moderate” Republican. Trump also named the Ohio native to the Presidential Council on Sports in 2018 and reappointed him for a second two-year term last December.
GOP sources told the outlet Oz could be a factor in the wide-open Senate race.
“This crowd is so big and unknown,” one Republican operative told the network.
With Post wires