As he hurtles toward a general election showdown with the state s lieutenant governor in November, Pennsylvania Senate candiate Mehmet Oz is making a pivot towards a centrist electorate.
Dr Oz, a celebrity TV doc, removed any mention of former President Donald Trump from his Twitter bio, background image, campaign website splash page and even recent advertisements, following a primary campaign that relied heavily on his endorsement from the 45th president. Axios reported the changes on Wednesday.
Dr Oz faces an uphill battle to win Pennylvania's open US Senate seat, currently held by retiring Republican Pat Toomey in November. He leads Lt Gov John Fetterman by double digits while Mr Fetterman has started to batter his GOP opponent with the revelation that Dr Oz was voting in New Jersey as recently as 2020.
The state's Republican primary turned into a race to the far right with the three leading candidates all seeking Trump's endorsement, which will pose a challenge for the GOP as they hope Dr Oz takes a Senate seat currently held by Mr Toomey, who has established a much different reputation as a centrist and dealmaker in Washington.
He has tried to paint Mr Fetterman as a far-left socialist, a tactic that failed to produce results for the lieutenant governor's centrist challenger Conor Lamb in the state's Democratic senatorial primary.
The Independent reached out to the Oz campaign for a statement on the clear messaging shift, a spokesman previously noted to Axios that the candidate's Trump endorsement still features prominently on the endorsements page on his campaign website, though that could hardly be the most prominent public face of his campaign.
Pennsylvania is a true battleground state in many respects, after it went to Trump in 2016 but flipped back blue in 2020. The state s other senator is a Democrat, Bob Casey, who votes in line with the rest of his party's caucus in the upper chamber.