Rich? Want to be a U.S. senator? Welcome to Pennsylvania!

Dec 2, 2021, 9:45 PM | Updated: Dec 3, 2021, 11:52 am
FILE - This Dec. 4, 2019 file photo shows Dr. Mehmet Oz at the 14th annual L'Oreal Paris Women of W...

FILE - This Dec. 4, 2019 file photo shows Dr. Mehmet Oz at the 14th annual L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Gala in New York. Oz is running in the 2022 Republican primary election for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Rich, Republican and want to be a U.S. senator?

Pennsylvania might as well hang a welcome sign.

The presidential battleground state’s high-stakes race for an open Senate seat is seeing candidates with big bank accounts and big-time connections exchanging their blue-state mansions for decidedly purple Pennsylvania, and pursuing an opportunity they might never have at home.

Introducing Carla Sands, Mehmet Oz — best known as the host of TV’s “Dr. Oz Show” — and David McCormick, all three of whom seem prepared to spend millions of their own dollars to win a Senate seat.

Their arrival seems to be a testament to Republican optimism about winning in Pennsylvania, a bellwether state and one of the nation’s biggest presidential electoral prizes, backing Democrat Joe Biden in last year’s election and former President Donald Trump in 2016.

It’s also a test in an increasingly nationalized political environment of whether voters care about how deeply their representatives are tied to the state — or whether carpetbagging will be a pivotal issue in next year’s contest to replace retiring two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

“Every candidate comes with assets and liabilities,” said Charlie Dent, a former seven-term congressman from the Allentown area. “The question is, how big a liability it is and, at the end of the day, will it matter to voters more than any other issue?”

But, Dent said, “every one of those candidates will be doing everything they can to prove their Pennsylvania bonafides. They’ll spend a lot of time talking about their roots in Pennsylvania.”

The race is wide open, and has attracted Democratic contestants who have far more electoral experience than the Republican field. They include John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, and third-term U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb of suburban Pittsburgh.

For Republicans looking for a homer, they’ve got a few options.

A super PAC that supports one candidate, real estate investor Jeff Bartos, suggests the recent arrivals are treating Toomey’s seat like an “at-large” seat, not a Pennsylvania seat.

“These candidates are opportunists and elitist members of the ruling class, swooping in to a state they couldn’t be bothered to live in and don’t know,” said spokesperson David Abrams.

Still, the state Republican Party isn’t turning up its nose.

In a statement, chairman Lawrence Tabas said Republican candidates are emerging because electoral successes in 2021 “signal mass sobriety about the toxicity of Democrat leadership.”

Legally, they seem on solid ground.

To serve as a senator, a constitutional qualification is to be an inhabitant of the state when elected, but it’s a loose requirement.

The Senate has previously decided that someone elected to it must have some sort of residence in the state or at least an intention to establish a residence there, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis in 2015.

Sands, 61, a Pennsylvania native, spent the majority of the last four decades in California before taking a post as Trump’s ambassador to Denmark and selling her homes in Malibu and Bel Air.

She returned to the U.S. in early 2021, rented a condo overlooking the Susquehanna River with views of the state Capitol and began campaigning.

Oz, 61, gave a jolt to the race this week, declaring his candidacy and bringing unrivaled wealth and name recognition to the contest.

The longtime resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey, claims he moved to Pennsylvania a year earlier, renting his in-laws’ home in suburban Philadelphia.

However, his social media posts from the past year are full of photos of him in his Cliffside Park home overlooking the Hudson River across from Manhattan, where he practices medicine and films his TV show.

A campaign aide has not answered questions about whether Oz actually sleeps at his in-laws’ home in suburban Philadelphia — where he is registered to vote — and makes the long commute to work in New York City.

Born in Cleveland, Oz’s main claim to Pennsylvania is that he went to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He married a Pennsylvania native, and had his first two children there before moving to New Jersey.

In his pitch to Pennsylvania GOP officials, Oz stresses how he spent part of his boyhood in Wilmington, Delaware, often traveling across the nearby Pennsylvania line, not far from Philadelphia.

He’s already got the endorsement of one member of Congress, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler from southwestern Pennsylvania, and the GOP chairman of a big county came away impressed after speaking with Oz.

“This is not a vanity play for him, he really understands the issues,” Allegheny County Republican Party chair Sam DeMarco said.

McCormick, a Pennsylvania native, has not declared his candidacy or even spoken publicly about it. But he is meeting with Republican Party officials this week and next and bought a house near Pittsburgh, advisers say.

McCormick, 56, is the son of a former chancellor of the state university system, and grew up in Pennsylvania before leaving to attend West Point and serve in the Gulf War.

He spent some years in business in Pittsburgh before he left again in 2005 to take high-level jobs with the administration of then-President George W. Bush.

For more than a decade, he has lived in Connecticut, where he is CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Westport-based Bridgewater Associates.

Carpetbagger accusations have trickled into races in Pennsylvania in the past, but not like this, said party officials and campaign veterans.

“I’ve certainly never seen anything like this,” said Dave Ball, the chairman of the Washington County Republican Party.

As Ball and other Republicans take stock of the field, the intramural digs are starting.

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, who plans to endorse McCormick should he enter the race, took to Twitter to play up McCormick as a “great American who grew up in my district. Dave would be an America First/PA First Senator for and FROM PENNSYLVANIA!!”

In an interview, Meuser complained that Oz “is just coming in literally out of nowhere. I think Oz wants to be U.S. senator, but not a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.”


Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Philippine dictator’s son defeats bid vs. presidential run

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The son of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos defeated on Monday a bid to disqualify him from the May 9 presidential race but still faces other petitions from human rights victims and others who have raised alarm over atrocities under his late father’s rule. The Commission on Elections rejected a petition […]
1 day ago
A medical helicopter rests next to the Drexel Hill United Methodist Church after it crashed in the ...
Associated Press

Pilot of crashed medical helicopter released from hospital

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The pilot of a medical helicopter that crash-landed without loss of life next to a church in a residential area of suburban Philadelphia last week expressed gratitude to his crew and first responders as he was released from a hospital Sunday. Danial Moore was wheeled out of the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Trial against philanthropist and dozens resumes in Turkey

ISTANBUL (AP) — The trial against prominent Turkish civil rights figure Osman Kavala resumed Monday — the 1539th day of his pre-trial detention — without his participation. The hearing is taking place as a Jan. 19 Council of Europe deadline that could trigger infringement procedures looms. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2019 […]
1 day ago
Supporters greet Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko upon his arrival at Zhuliany Internati...
Associated Press

Ex-leader Poroshenko returns to Ukraine to appear in court

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday returned to Ukraine to face court on treason charges he believes are politically motivated. At the Kyiv airport, where he arrived on a flight from Warsaw on Monday morning, Poroshenko was greeted by several thousand cheering supporters. Some carried banners reading “We need democracy,” […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Credit Suisse chairman resigns in wake of internal probe

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse says its chairman, Antonio Horta-Osorio, has resigned following an internal probe that reportedly turned up that he had violated quarantine rules intended to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The resignation of Horta-Osorio, a British-Portuguese national who took up the job barely eight months ago, was announced shortly after midnight on Monday. […]
1 day ago
A man lifts a child at a park in Beijing, China, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. The number of babies born...
Associated Press

China’s births fall in 2021, as workforce shrinks

BEIJING (AP) — The number of babies born in China fell again last year, official data showed Monday, adding to pressure on the ruling Communist Party’s ambitions to boost national wealth and influence with a workforce that has been shrinking for a decade. Some 10.6 million babies were born, the government said, down 12% from […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Rich? Want to be a U.S. senator? Welcome to Pennsylvania!