Journalist details new Senate candidate Dr. Oz's history of ‘out-there quack science’
This week, Dr. Mehmet Oz officially announced that he has entered the GOP primary in Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race. The former cardiologist, who hosts “The Dr. Oz Show” and has often been the butt of jokes because of the unscientific “miracle cures” he has promoted, will be competing for the Senate seat presently held by Republican Pat Toomey. Journalist Liz Skalka discusses Oz’s widely criticized love of “quack science” in an article for HuffPost, but she also points out how important this Senate race will be.
Pennsylvania, a key swing state, has a Democratic U.S. senator — the centrist Bob Casey, Jr., who unseated Rick Santorum in 2006 and won a third term in 2018 — and hard-right Toomey, who infuriated MAGA Republicans by voting “guilty” in former President Donald Trump’s second impeach trial. Rather than face an aggressive primary challenge from MAGA Republicans who now consider him a RINO, Toomey decided not to seek reelection in 2022.
“Now that Oz, a Republican, has joined the fray in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race,” Skalka observes, “the celebrity doctor’s most out-there advice and treatments are certain to receive greater scrutiny, if not prominent placement in attack ads. Oz has promoted everything from raspberry ketones, berry-red pills promising to melt excess fat, to hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug falsely touted by former President Donald Trump and the right-wing as a COVID-19 miracle cure.”
Skalka adds, “Before becoming a nationally syndicated health influencer, Oz was known as a top heart surgeon with a prestigious faculty appointment and 11 patents relating to heart surgery. But his propensity for new age treatments and exaggerated marketing eventually became his calling card.”
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Despite the fact that Oz promoted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” in 2020, he isn’t known for having far-right politics. Oz described himself as a “moderate Republican” during a 2007 interview, citing President Theodore Roosevelt and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as two of his favorite Republicans — which could help him in the Philadelphia suburbs if he wins the GOP nomination.
While Philly Proper is deep blue — a Republican hasn’t won a mayoral race in Philly since the late 1940s — its suburbs in Bucks County, Delaware County and Montgomery County were known for favoring moderate conservatives in the past. Former two-term Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-choice conservative and Never Trumper who wasn’t afraid to say that he supported Roe v. Wade, was exactly the type of Republican who the Philly suburbs favored during the 1990s. But Trump and the far-right MAGA movement have been making Bucks County and Montgomery County much more Democrat-leaning than they were in the past.
If Oz wins his party’s nomination, Democrats will no doubt remind Pennsylvania voters of the fact that he was a medical adviser to Trump who promoted hydroxychloroquine in 2020. And certainly, the seat now held by Toomey is one that Democratic strategists would love to flip.
Presently, Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Mitch McConnell is hoping to become Senate majority leader again, but flipping the Pennsylvania seat from GOP to Democrat would slightly increase that Democratic majority — assuming Republicans don’t flip any Democrat-held Senate seats in 2022.
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Skalka notes some of the many “miracle cures” that Oz has promoted, from lavender soap for leg cramps to raspberry ketones for burning fat to green coffee bean extract for weight loss to a strawberry/baking soda mixture for teeth whitening. Coffee beans, before they are roasted at high temperatures and turn brown, are green; Oz sold extract from the unroasted beans.
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