Oprah Winfrey on Thursday endorsed John Fetterman (D) in the tightly contested Senate race in Pennsylvania, rejecting Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate running for the same seat, whom she helped make famous.
“If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would have already cast my vote for John Fetterman, for many reasons,” Winfrey, a longtime Democrat, said during a virtual town hall meeting.
The TV icon also said Pennsylvania was “not the only race that matters” and backed other Democrats running in next week’s midterm elections, including Beto O’Rourke in Texas, and Raphael G. Warnock and Stacey Abrams in Georgia.
Fetterman’s campaign welcomed the gesture. “It speaks volumes that Oprah would endorse Fetterman over Oz, after declining to weigh in during Oz’s primary election,” his campaign team said in a news release.
Winfrey was speaking at a Zoom event hosted by the Oprah Winfrey Network that focused on encouraging voters — especially young people and Black women — to vote.
Her comments supporting Fetterman come days before the crucial election in Pennsylvania, one of several tight battleground races that could determine which party controls the Senate after the midterms. Polling averages show at least seven Senate races within the margin of error, The Washington Post reported last week.
Fetterman and Oz clashed in a debate last month, but Fetterman gave a halting performance, showing signs of the stroke that he had suffered in May. It drew concern from those who worry he might not be able to carry out the duties of his office should he win the race, and applause from those who lauded his bravery in revealing the auditory processing challenges he still faces.
Winfrey’s support of Fetterman serves as a rebuke of Oz, whose prior TV career Winfrey helped launch and grow. Oz, a medical doctor, hosted a show on the Discovery Channel in the early 2000s called “Second Opinion with Dr. Oz.” Winfrey appeared on that show as a guest. Oz was later featured on Winfrey’s popular talk show, rising to national fame after more than 60 appearances. In 2009 he went on to host “The Dr. Oz Show,” which was co-produced by Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions.
As a celebrity doctor, Oz provided a platform for potentially dangerous products and fringe viewpoints, The Post reported, including a weight-loss approach directly refuted by the Food and Drug Administration.
In Winfrey’s remarks Thursday, she urged voters to “use discernment and choose wisely to preserve the democracy of our country,” according to her spokeswoman.
Oz’s campaign team could not be immediately reached late Thursday, but his spokeswoman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Oz “loves Oprah and respects the fact that they have different politics. He believes we need more balance and less extremism in Washington.”