Oz Campaign Baffles GOP

Pennsylvania Senate nominee has left the airwaves to John Fetterman
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2022 5:55 PM CDT
Oz's Race Confounds State GOP
Republican US Senate candidate Mehmet Oz leads a roundtable discussion focused on agriculture, small businesses, and the Pennsylvania economy at Mobilia Fruit Farm in North East on June 14.   (Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via AP)

John Fetterman hasn't been on the Pennsylvania campaign trail since mid-May, when he had a stroke and was hospitalized. Still, the Democratic nominee has managed to set the pace of the state's Senate campaign, Politico reports, by buying airtime—helped by the TV absence of his Republican opponent. Mehmet Oz has upset some in his party who expected a brisk start to the general election campaign once he was declared the primary winner after a recount. But he's trailing in the polls, and frustration is building. "I don’t have much confidence in their campaign," said the GOP chairman in a county where Oz did poorly. He offered to help the campaign in his area. "And I don't even hear back," he said.

State Republicans have offered other advice that's gone nowhere. Donors suggested that Oz, who has millions, put more of his money into the campaign to rev it up. The answer was, "We're going to spend what we need to spend," one Republican said. Oz's unfavorable rating in polls is higher than Fetterman's, after a primary in which his opponents spent millions to attack him, and many want him to use this time to try to turn that around. Money isn't the problem, Oz's campaign says. "We're raising a lot of money," said Casey Contres, the campaign manager, adding, "Fetterman is spending money right now because he knows he has a lot of issues." Aides also point out that GOP Senate candidates in other battleground states haven't bought commercials yet, either.

Republican groups are going after Fetterman on Oz's behalf. The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a missing person poster this week, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It says Fetterman was last seen May 13, the day of his stroke. A spokesman said Fetterman is doing well and will resume campaigning soon. "He is about 90% back to full strength and getting better," a spokesman said. His campaign announced Friday that it's launching a TV ad this weekend questioning Oz's residency, per the Hill; Fetterman has called Oz a carpetbagger from New Jersey. It's hired a plane to pull a banner along South Jersey beaches on Sunday welcoming Oz "Home to NJ." Oz argued in debates that voters "care much more about what I stand for than where I'm from." (Read more Mehmet Oz stories.)

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