Mehmet Oz got a lot of criticism for moving to Pennsylvania to run for Senate. And in the end, he won the primary without much of the hometown love candidates usually enjoy.
But the results showed almost no regional advantage for Oz at all, according to an Inquirer analysis of election data.
The celebrity surgeon known as “Dr. Oz” grew up in Delaware, attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, lived for years in North Jersey, and has been living with his in-laws in Montgomery County since 2020. David McCormick, who narrowly lost to Oz, grew up in Bloomsburg, but only recently moved back from Connecticut, where he ran a hedge fund.
In a parochial state where long-standing loyalties and regional pride count for a lot, both received an onslaught of criticism for being out-of-state opportunists — or “political tourists,” as some rivals called them.
“When these carpetbaggers lose, you will never see them again,” GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette said in April. “And if they should win, you will never see them again.”
Oz and McCormick were the top vote-getters, surely thanks in part to the millions they spent from their own fortunes, piping their messages into TVs across the state. But they got that support without the regional hometown boost candidates usually have.
Oz’s campaign said Republican primary turnout shows “there’s real energy and enthusiasm among Pennsylvania voters.”
“Dr. Oz knows how important the support of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents is to win in November and defeat radical liberal John Fetterman,” campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick said. “Just as we saw in the primary, Dr. Oz will be able to gain support throughout the Commonwealth.”
Neither candidate was particularly dominant in any region of the state. McCormick won his home county of Allegheny but not by much. Oz lost Montgomery to Barnette, who had previously run for Congress in the county and won strong support there in her Senate run.
Compare that pattern with the GOP governor’s race, where there were strong hometown effects.
Although State Sen. Doug Mastriano won that race handily statewide, he lost by large margins in places where his opponents had long-standing bases of support. Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta ran up the score throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, where he was Hazleton’s mayor for a decade. Bill McSwain and David White won their respective homes of Chester and Delaware Counties.
And Mastriano performed best in his home region of South-Central Pennsylvania.
The Democratic Senate race also had regional dimensions.
Although John Fetterman carried every county, U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb did his best in the Southwest, where he is a sitting congressman, and the Philly suburbs, where his brand of moderate politics plays well. And State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was by far his strongest in Philadelphia. He represents part of North Philly in the state House.
Fetterman has already started going after Oz for being a recent transplant. After Oz officially became the nominee, Fetterman’s campaign started selling “Dr. Oz for New Jersey” bumper stickers.