Former Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge backed Dr. Mehmet Oz on Thursday in his contest for the Keystone State’s open Senate seat.
Ridge, who served as governor of Pennsylvania between 1995 and 2001 before working as the nation’s inaugural Secretary of Homeland Security, said in a statement that he trusts Oz to handle “the issues facing Pennsylvania and our nation.” The celebrity cardiologist is running against Pennsylvania Lt. Governor and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman as a Republican.
“Over the course of the past year, I had the pleasure of spending time with Dr. Mehmet Oz on several occasions,” Ridge remarked. “We discussed those issues, and I had an opportunity to hear from him directly about why he’s chosen to step into the political arena. I was most impressed by his intellect and his desire to serve our Commonwealth and nation with energy and passion. I wholeheartedly support his bid to become our next Senator.”
Ridge also endorsed President Joe Biden during the 2020 election amid his rejection of former President Donald Trump — who, according to Ridge, lacked “empathy, integrity, intellect, and maturity to lead.”
“I actually consider it a point of personal pride that I’m recognized for being among the first Republicans to reject Donald Trump,” Ridge wrote two years ago in an opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “While I do not agree with many of Biden’s policies, I do know him to be a decent man who can begin to undo the damage President Trump has caused.”
Trump also endorsed Oz, who scrubbed his campaign website of most references to the former commander-in-chief following the Republican primary.
Oz was among the most polarizing candidates vying for the Republican Senate nomination earlier this year. Roughly 48% of voters held a “somewhat or strongly unfavorable opinion” of the candidate during the primary contest, according to a poll from Emerson College. He raised eyebrows among conservatives last year following an interview in which he claimed to be “pro-life” with the exception of rape, incest, and “health for the mother.”
Jeff Bartos, who co-chairs the Oz campaign, was spotted last week at a fundraiser for Pennsylvania Democratic Attorney General and gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro, who is running against Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano. Politico reported that Sheryl Bartos, the wife of Jeff Bartos, was a co-host for the “big-dollar Philadelphia fundraiser,” while a person familiar with Bartos’ thinking told the outlet that “he was proud to support his wife and was there at her request to accompany her.”
In a recent poll from CBS News and YouGov, Fetterman was supported by 52% of respondents, while Oz was backed by 47%. Voters also indicated a higher degree of favorability for the former nominee; 56% of Fetterman supporters said they are pulling the lever for him “mainly because” they like him, while only 15% of Oz voters said the same about their preferred candidate.
Democrats are hoping that Fetterman will add to a majority in the evenly divided Senate. However, Fetterman suffered a stroke days before the commonwealth’s primary election and has since stumbled during speeches at multiple campaign events. Roughly 41% of voters believe that Fetterman is not in “good enough health” to serve in office.