By Moira Warburton and Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday said he is endorsing celebrity surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running as a Republican for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.
“Dr. Oz is smart, tough, and will never let you down, therefore, he has my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said in a statement.
The other top Republican in the Pennsylvania race is David McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO. Recent polls had Oz and McCormick neck and neck in the Republican primary. They will face off in a primary contest on May 17.
On the Democratic side, Pennsylvania’s progressive lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, is locked in a race against Congressman Conor Lamb, a moderate representing the northwestern suburbs of Pittsburgh.
Oz, known for the syndicated “The Dr. Oz Show,” brings substantial name recognition to a wide-open Nov. 8, 2022, contest that could determine control of the Senate and the fate of Democratic President Joe Biden’s agenda.
Biden narrowly won Pennsylvania in the 2020 election but Republicans made gains in the state legislature. Many observers expect the race to be a toss-up following the retirement of Republican Senator Pat Toomey.
Toomey was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in February 2021 following Trump’s impeachment on a charge of incitement of insurrection. The Senate vote of 57-43 fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Moira WarburtonEditing by Nick Zieminski)