The celebrity heart surgeon, who is running against Pennsylvania Lt. Governor and Democratic nominee John Fetterman, has criticized his rival for embracing extreme positions and failing to hear the concerns of voters in the Keystone State. In an article for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Oz vowed that he would advance policies supportive of law enforcement resources as the region is gripped by the fentanyl crisis and increased lawlessness.
“As violent crime increases in Western Pennsylvania, our communities have become less safe and businesses have become negatively impacted as a result,” Oz wrote. “To tackle crime, I will vote to fund our police and support communities with the resources they need to keep violent criminals off the streets and ensure vulnerable populations have the help they need.”
Crime in the Steel City has increased considerably over the past three years. Homicides spiked 26% between 2019 and 2020, while incidents of gun violence and dispatches for shots fired soared between 2020 and 2021, according to data from the City of Pittsburgh.
Oz also noted that “gas prices have gone through the roof and simple necessities like baby formula have become harder to get than fentanyl in our cities.” Indeed, western Pennsylvania is among the regions most impacted by the opioid crisis, with Allegheny County witnessing 719 overdose deaths last year, according to data from Chief Medical Examiner Karl Williams.
With respect to economic issues, Oz said that he would “fight to lower inflation and cut taxes” while working to “make Pennsylvania a leader in energy production.” Oz and Fetterman were pressed during their only televised debate on whether they support fracking, a method of harvesting fossil fuels core to the economic prosperity of western Pennsylvania. The former pointed to fracking and natural gas production as mechanisms for expanding living standards in the commonwealth, while the latter insisted he has “always supported” fracking when confronted by the moderators with his past statements opposing the practice.
Throughout the midterm election cycle, Democratic candidates have received criticism from inside and outside their institutions for discussing fringe issues while neglecting kitchen-table matters such as inflation and school choice. Third Way, a center-left think tank, revealed on Monday that the Republicans maintain double-digit advantages over their rivals on the economy and immigration, with roughly 56% saying that Democrats “are not focused enough on the economy” and only 36% expressing the same about their opponents.
“The results indicate that Democrats are underwater on issues voters name as their highest priorities,” a memo published by the group stated, “including the economy, immigration, and crime, they are perceived as distant from the electorate ideologically, and voters question whether the party shares essential values like patriotism and the importance of hard work.”
Democrats have staked their hopes on a pendulum-style reaction against the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The issue of abortion, however, ranks a distant third among the issues most important to voters and is held at a similar level of priority as crime, an area in which Republicans also dominate.