Dr Mehmet Oz, known to viewers of his show simply as “Dr Oz”, may be pursuing a much different title in the near future.
The celebrity TV doctor and Columbia University professor is considering launching a bid for the open US Senate seat in Pennsylvania, the right-leaning Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday.
The seat is currently held by Sen Pat Toomey, who announced his plans to retire from the Senate last year. The battle over control of the seat is likely to be one of the most-watched Senate battles in the nation as control of the upper chamber will likely come down to just a few seats.
According to the Free Beacon, Dr Oz has “begun hiring a staff and reaching out to potential allies, according to influential Republicans familiar with his plans”.
In a statement to the outlet, a spokesperson for the syndicated TV host did not rule out the possibility of the 61-year-old launching a Senate bid, but stated that he had no plans to announce at this time.
"Since last year, Dr Oz has lived and voted in Pennsylvania where he attended school and has deep family ties. Dr Oz has received encouragement to run for the US Senate, but is currently focused on our show and has no announcement at this time,” they said.
If he launched a bid, Dr Oz would likely face attacks centered around his past promotion of pseudoscientific claims on his show, including his endorsement of hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid-19; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked emergency authorisation for that drug’s use in treatment of the virus stating that the risks far outweighed its potential benefits.
He also faced criticism last year over statements regarding school reopenings; the doctor referred to reopening schools as an “appetising opportunity” while adding that parents may only face “2-3 per cent in terms of total mortality”.
Mr Toomey’s retirement is a significant hurdle Senate Republicans will face in their attempts to recapture the chamber next year; the party is now struggling to find a candidate with the same name recognition in the state to carry the GOP banner and keep it out of Democratic hands. A handful of Democrats including the state’s well-known lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, have already launched bids for the seat.
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