New Jersey resident Dr. Mehmet Oz has hurdles ahead in his fledgling U.S. Senate campaign — not the least of which is convincing voters that he actually lives in the state where he’s running for office.
Dr. Oz, who has a syndicated daytime talk show, has launched a campaign for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, a state he apparently hasn’t called home since his graduate school days at the University of Pennsylvania.
The cardiac surgeon, a Republican, was asked about his residency on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, and he offered a nonspecific response in his first national interview since confirming his candidacy on Tuesday.
Oz said he lived in Philadelphia while earning his medical and business degrees at Penn, and it was in that city where he met his future wife, Lisa Oz, who also went on to become a TV personality.
“I grew up just across the border, south of Philadelphia,” said Oz, who was born to Turkish immigrants in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up in Delaware from the time he was 3 through high school. He attended Harvard University before graduate school.
“I went to medical school at [Penn] in Philadelphia. I went to business school at Wharton in Philadelphia. I met and married my wife, which was the best thing I ever did, 36 years ago in Philadelphia. And I bore two children — she bore them for me — in Philadelphia,” he told Hannity.
“I came home a year ago. It feels good to be back. I love the state, and I will represent it honorably,” he said.
Oz didn’t explain exactly where he was calling home. His longtime family residence is in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, which overlooks Manhattan and the Hudson River. His campaign couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
But the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Oz registered to vote absentee this year at his in-laws’ home in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. His campaign told the Inquirer that’s where he currently lives.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat from Paterson, New Jersey, ribbed Oz over the situation on Twitter.
“I want to congratulate my North Jersey constituent Dr. Oz on his run for US Senate in Pennsylvania. I’m sure this fully genuine candidacy will capture the hearts of Pennsylvanians,” he wrote.
Oz’s opponents in a competitive primary and general election, where Republicans are defending the seat held by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, are likely to seize on his residency as a campaign issue.
He’ll also have to contend with criticism from the medical community about his advice and “miracle cures,” which have included raspberry ketones, green coffee extract and other treatments considered to be pseudoscience.
Oz isn’t the only candidate this cycle with residency issues dogging their campaigns. Republican Herschel Walker, a former NFL star, is running for the Senate in Georgia despite living most recently in Texas. Oz’s opponent in the GOP primary Carla Sands, the former U.S. ambassador to Denmark, sold her estate in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air before campaigning in Pennsylvania.
Candidates for Senate don’t have to live in the states where they’re seeking office while campaigning, but the Constitution requires them to move by the election.