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Philly’s police union has endorsed Republican Mehmet Oz in the U.S. Senate race

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 is splitting its ticket by endorsing the GOP nominee in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race and Democrat Josh Shapiro in the gubernatorial election.

Mehmet Oz talks to the media after accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police on Monday.
Mehmet Oz talks to the media after accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police on Monday.Read moreJose F. Moreno / Staff Photographer

Philadelphia’s police union on Monday endorsed Republican U.S. Senate nominee Mehmet Oz, who has been trying to tie the city’s gun violence crisis to his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Oz, a celebrity physician who often uses medical metaphors on the campaign trail, said the “lawlessness that all of us are witnessing” is “like a cancer.”

“What makes cancer cancer is that you have cells that are sociopathic, that don’t pay attention to the cells around them,” Oz said while speaking in the Northeast Philadelphia headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. “They suck up the blood supply. They release toxic chemicals.

“They don’t just destroy themselves through their criminal behavior. They destroy everything around them. That’s the real risk here.”

» READ MORE: Focusing on crime, Republicans think they’ve finally put John Fetterman on the defensive

Oz has made several stops in Philadelphia recently in an attempt to cast Fetterman as soft on crime, in part by highlighting Fetterman’s work to commute sentences as a member of the Board of Pardons.

Fetterman, who grew up in York and was mayor of Braddock in western Pennsylvania, has few ties to Philadelphia, and as a senator, neither he nor Oz would have much control over the city’s law enforcement. But Oz has sought to link him to the state’s biggest city by blaming the record-setting pace of shootings and murders on Democratic policies.

» READ MORE: John Fetterman ran the Board of Pardons like an activist — and at times a bully

Oz, who attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, said people no longer feel safe in the city.

“I’ve been to those areas. I’ve been all through Philadelphia,” Oz said. “You can’t ride a bike in West Philadelphia, and you certainly can’t leave it outside. You can’t walk around North Philly.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Jack Doyle said that Oz, who moved to Pennsylvania to run in the Senate race, “doesn’t care about Pennsylvanians.”

”Mehmet Oz is a complete fraud who can’t be trusted to keep Pennsylvanians safe because he opposes common-sense gun reforms or any meaningful measure aimed at actually reducing gun violence,” Doyle said in a statement.

The Fetterman campaign provided a statement from Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny, who defended the lieutenant governor’s work on the Board of Pardons.

“Here’s the truth. John gave a second chance to those who deserved it,” Kilkenny said. “He voted with law enforcement experts nearly 90% of the time. Dr. Oz doesn’t know a thing about crime, he only knows how to help himself.”

Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, who lost to Oz in the GOP primary, emceed Monday’s event and said Oz is “remarkably intelligent” and has “more energy than I’ve ever seen.”

But Bochetto had less-kind things to say about Oz during the GOP primary, when the Philly police union endorsed Bochetto. At that event in March, Bochetto said Oz “sells magic coffee beans to little old ladies on daytime TV,” a reference to the controversial weight loss treatments that the celebrity physician hawked on his eponymous TV show.

» READ MORE: Mehmet Oz has peddled ‘fat burners’ and other pseudoscience. Now he’s running for Senate in Pa.

Bochetto said Monday that his comments in March were merely pointed barbs that come along with campaigning.

“The comment that I made during the primary was nothing more than a political comment, an extreme political comment,” Bochetto said. “And it’s the type of thing that happens, but I can assure you, this is the real deal with Dr. Oz.”

Despite going with a Republican in the Senate race, FOP Lodge 5 has endorsed Democrat Josh Shapiro in the Pennsylvania governor’s race.

“Every time we pick up the phone, he’s there to help us with whatever we need to do as far as law enforcement,” McNesby said of Shapiro, the state attorney general. “Listen, we’re out for whoever is out for police. We don’t look D. We don’t look R.”

McNesby also raised concerns about whether State Sen. Doug Mastriano, Shapiro’s Republican opponent, was committed to protecting the union’s collective bargaining rights, including whether he would defend the controversial law known as Act 111 that establishes favorable arbitration proceedings for contracts and disputes involving public safety unions.

“To me, it just doesn’t seem like everything’s clocking with Mastriano, and some of his stances on unions, and right-to-work, and collective bargaining,” McNesby said.

As a federal legislator, Oz would have no role regarding Act 111. McNesby said the union was backing him because of his support for police.

“We need to have somebody in there that’s going to be pro-law enforcement, that’s going to be out there supporting and giving us the equipment that we need,” McNesby said.

At Monday’s event, Oz offered few specifics about how he would bring down crime and what role he believes a U.S. senator could play in fighting violence in Philadelphia.

Asked about police reform measures he would support, Oz said he is in favor of increased use of police body cameras, and McNesby agreed.

Oz also voiced support for “community policing,” which refers to police officers being more present and engaged in the neighborhoods they patrol.

And he said the Police Department needs to recruit more officers, noting that young people are increasingly uninterested in the profession, but without specifying how the city can attract more applicants.