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Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz set to run for US Senate as Republican

Celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz set to run for US Senate as Republican

Oz, upbraided in 2015 over promotion of ‘quack treatments’ for financial gain, planning to run for Pat Toomey’s Pennsylvania seat

Oz became a household name after gaining fame as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

Dr Oz became a household name after gaining fame as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Photograph: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Dr Oz became a household name after gaining fame as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show. Photograph: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Dr Mehmet Oz, the celebrity heart surgeon best known as the host of TV’s Dr Oz Show, is planning to run for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat as a Republican, according to two people familiar with his plans.

Should Oz run, he would bring unrivaled name recognition and wealth to a race expected to be among the nation’s most competitive and could determine control of the Senate next year.

Oz became a household name after gaining fame as a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

He has also experienced controversy, notably when in 2015 a group of prominent American physicians called on Columbia University medical school to sever its links with Oz for “an egregious lack of integrity” over the promotion of “quack treatments” not supported by scientific evidence, “in the interest of personal financial gain”.

Subjected to a grilling by senators, Oz offered to “drain the swamp” of marketers he said were illegally using his words and name.

In 2016, Oz hosted Donald Trump on his TV show as the businessman ran for the White House.

Oz was later appointed to a White House Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, alongside appointees including the New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, bodybuilder and former Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera and the football star Herschel Walker.

Walker is now a Trump-endorsed candidate for Senate in Georgia.

Oz may also have to explain why he isn’t running in New Jersey, where he has lived for two decades before voting in Pennsylvania elections this year by an absentee ballot registered to his in-laws’ address in suburban Philadelphia.

Oz’s longtime home is above the Hudson river in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, overlooking Manhattan, where he films his TV show and practices medicine.

If he runs he will enter a Republican field resetting with an influx of candidates, after Sean Parnell, the candidate endorsed by Trump, dropped out, denying allegations of domestic abuse.

Oz, 61, has told associates and Republicans in Pennsylvania of his plans, according to the people who spoke to the AP. One was told directly while the other was briefed on a separate conversation. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. Publicly, Oz has only said through a spokesperson that he has received encouragement to run.

The announcement could come on Tuesday night on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News, which Hannity previewed by saying Oz “has a huge announcement. Hint: think midterm election.”

Pennsylvania put Joe Biden over the top in last year’s presidential election. His one-point victory put the swing state back in Democratic hands after Trump won it even more narrowly in 2016.