Where the hell is Dr Oz?
The Democratic hopeful has set the pace for the campaign despite not having set foot on the trail since suffering a stroke in mid-May.
“I don’t have much faith in their campaign,” said Arnie McClure, chairman of the Huntingdon County Republican Party. He said he had been in contact with the Oz team but had not received answers to several questions.
“[Oz] came to a distant third of my county, so I called them and said, ‘You need to talk to our people to change their minds and our minds and I’ll help you do that.’ And I don’t even hear back. What the hell?”
Some GOP donors have urged Oz, a multimillionaire, to contribute more of his own money to revive his general election campaign, according to two people familiar with their conversations. Oz loaned himself more than $12 million in the primary, according to the latest campaign finance documents.
The Oz team responded to donors that “we’re going to spend what we have to spend,” a source said.
Despite an imperfect start to the Senate race, most Republicans in Pennsylvania still believe the headwinds are in their favor. A Suffolk University/USA Today Network poll in early June found that 54% of likely voters in the state disapprove of Joe Biden’s professional performance, a weight that will be a challenge for Fetterman to shed. Fetterman has also not announced when he will return to the track, and it is not yet clear how vigorously he will be able to campaign once he does.
But some GOP members worry Oz is wasting time he should be spending defending himself on the airwaves, especially after a deadly primary in which his opponents spent tens of millions of dollars on ads to sue him. . Oz’s unfavorable rating is 50%, while 28% view it favorably, according to the Suffolk poll. Fetterman’s favorable-unfavorable rating, on the other hand, is 45-27. The same survey showed Fetterman leading Oz in a head-to-head race by nine points.
“A lot of people in the GOP — both the establishment and the local Pennsylvania GOP — underestimate Fetterman,” said Sean Parnell, a former Republican Senate candidate who dropped out of the 2022 race amid a backlash. child custody battle in which his ex-wife alleged abuse. “He’s a guy who has on the left what Donald Trump has on the right. He has a very strong populist appeal that doesn’t just appeal to grassroots Democrats.
Two other polls conducted in mid-June showed Fetterman ahead by 6 and 4 points, respectively.
A Republican agent from Pennsylvania who requested anonymity to speak candidly argued that Oz should be on TV now: “It’s not complicated. …Increase Fetterman’s negatives and strengthen your positives.
The Oz campaign declined to share details about its television plans and would not respond to questions about whether Oz plans to spend more of its own money on the campaign. But her team said they are confident they will have the funds to tell their story.
“We collect a lot of money. … It’s a very clear cut question if you don’t want John Fetterman to be a senator,” said Oz campaign manager Casey Contres. “Fetterman is spending money right now because he knows he’s in a lot of trouble.”
A source close to the campaign added that Oz was on TV as early as November: “I don’t think anyone expected them to be in place for 12 months straight.”
In the meantime, the National Republican Senate Committee’s Independent Expenses have been providing air coverage of Oz since June, calling Fetterman a far-left ally of Senator Bernie Sanders and highlighting high gas prices on TV. However, he did not post any positive publicity about Oz.
The Oz campaign also argues that Fetterman was never hit by sustained negative publicity. They say the Democrat has serious vulnerabilities that will resonate with different voters, from his support for Medicare for All to a 2013 incident in which he fired a shotgun at an unarmed black jogger while serving as mayor. of Braddock. Fetterman said he thought he might be fleeing a shooting and didn’t know the man’s race at the time.
Pennsylvania Republicans and Democrats said Oz trailed Fetterman in the polls in part because he was having trouble with his own base. During the primary, opponents of Oz attacked him as insufficiently conservative on crucial issues such as abortion, gun rights and trans children. He won with 31% of the vote, beating former hedge fund CEO David McCormick by less than 1,000 votes.
Oz took several steps to unite the party. He spoke to McCormick several times after the primary, and McCormick donated the maximum allowed by law to Oz, according to a person familiar with the contribution. The two are expected to appear together at an event soon. Oz also made real estate developer Jeff Bartos, another former opponent, his campaign co-chair. Carla Sands, another ex-contestant who ran against Oz, spoke at a recent event.
The Oz campaign has an upcoming fundraiser hosted by former Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), who previously supported McCormick. Oz also recently hosted a D.C. encounter with the senses. Rick Scott, Deb Fischer and others where he raised funds.
“The best way to unite the Republican Party is to have your opponent John Fetterman,” Contres said. “John Fetterman backed Bernie Sanders for president, advocated for tough crime policies, said he supports the Green New Deal and supports government-run health care.”
But Oz has yet to defeat all of its former adversaries. Kathy Barnette, a conservative commentator who came third in the GOP primary after a late push, has yet to endorse Oz.
“Oz has hurdles to overcome, and my desire as a Republican is to see the Republican Party strong,” she told POLITICO. “But I think there are reasons why over 70% of people in Pennsylvania didn’t vote for Oz, and I think he has to work and figure that out.”
She said the meanness of the primary “left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people on our side of the aisle.” She didn’t rule out throwing his weight behind Oz in the future, though, saying he should stay focused “on the issues that matter.”
Even Democrats think the race will narrow in the eternal battleground and the vast majority of GOP voters will return home. In the last two presidential elections in Pennsylvania, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have won by less than 2 percentage points.
Josh Novotney, a Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant, played down recent investigations showing Oz trailing Fetterman.
“There is time here. It was a murderous primary. Fetterman had no primary bruises,” he said. “That’s not what the polls will look like in September and October.”