Trump's endorsement is no guarantee of success for Dr. Oz in Pa. Senate race

York Dispatch editorial board
  • Dr. Mehmet Oz is running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
  • Oz is a former host of a daytime television show.
  • Oz received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump on Saturday evening.
Dr. Mehmet Oz

Be careful what you wish for.

That’s our advice to Mehmet Oz.

The man better known as the host of daytime TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show" has been openly jockeying for the support of former President Donald Trump in the Republican U.S. Senate primary race in Pennsylvania.

Anyone who has a television has seen Oz’s commercials, which seem to run on a near-constant loop on the state’s stations. In those ads, Oz is exuberant in his praise of Trump.

Well, on Saturday evening, Oz finally got his wish. That’s when Trump threw his weight behind the celebrity heart surgeon, saying his decision was “all about winning elections.”

In his typical over-the-top fashion, Trump went on to say: “The Great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a tremendous opportunity to Save America by electing the brilliant and well-known Dr. Mehmet Oz for the United States Senate.”

Later, at a rally in North Carolina, Trump said: “You know when you’re in television for 18 years, that’s like a poll. That means people like you."

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Trump and Oz have a long personal history and both share a background in television, so the endorsement is not all that surprising.

Trump’s backing is no guarantee: Trump’s backing may very well help Oz win the Republican primary, although even that is no sure thing. Some polls have former hedge fund CEO David McCormick leading the race.

In addition, McCormick and the other Republicans in the field have similarly been gushing in their praise of Trump.

And Oz still must overcome his reputation as a carpetbagger candidate who only moved his residence to Pennsylvania because he saw the opportunity to win a Senate seat.

Still, there’s no doubting that Trump is still very popular with a large segment of the Republican party. His recommendation could set Oz apart in a large field.

Nevertheless, Trump’s endorsement is no guarantee of success.

After all, Trump had previously endorsed Sean Parnell in the race, but Parnell withdrew his candidacy amid allegations of abuse from his estranged wife.

Endorsement draws criticism: According to the Associated Press, that turnabout raised questions about the vigor of Trump's vetting process and concerns among Republicans about whether the former president was bolstering candidates who might be able to win their respective primaries but flounder in general elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.

Trump's decision even drew criticism from Parnell.

"I have enormous respect for President Trump. I was honored to have his endorsement in PA,” Parnell tweeted. “But I’m disappointed by this. Oz is the antithesis of everything that made Trump the best president of my lifetime — he’s the farthest thing from America First & he’d be very bad for PA.”

Parnell is not alone. Many other conservative Republicans have blasted Trump’s endorsement of Oz, who they view as a RINO (Republican in Name Only), or even worse, a Hollywood liberal.

Checkered track record: Meanwhile, Trump’s track record of endorsements is checkered.

Yes, many of his anointed candidates have won, but many have lost, too, some in very high-profile races where Republicans appeared to have a decided advantage.

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If Oz is able to win the primary, with Trump’s backing, that same endorsement could very well come back to haunt Oz in the general election.

Being associated with Trump could be enough to spur unmotivated Democratic voters, who intensely dislike Trump, to get off their couches and vote against Oz.

Trump’s endorsement could also turn off some moderate Republican voters who believe Trump is a clear and present danger to their party’s ideals and our nation.

So, Dr. Oz, enjoy Trump’s endorsement for now. You may regret having it come November.