Dr. Oz Brings Senate Campaign to Blairsville

The Indiana Gazette March 12, 2022

By: Patrick Cloonan

The campaign to succeed U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, reached Indiana County Friday afternoon, when Dr. Mehmet Oz stopped at Dean’s Diner in Blairsville.

“I have fought to protect my patients and my viewers on the biggest stage, network television,” said Oz, who is one of a plethora of Republicans in the contest to succeed the retiring lawmaker. “I have the scars to prove it, and I can’t be bought.”

He also had thoughts about farming, the Green New Deal and fracking in an interview sandwiched into a stopover with his wife Lisa between campaign events in Cambria and Beaver counties.

“We need the freedom to frack,” he said, something allowed in Pennsylvania — but with limitations. He said permits need be issued in a more timely fashion by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

He also said fracking facilities “can be shut down because a bureaucrat creates a non-scientific argument.”

As for the Green New Deal, Oz called it “woke ideology” and “a scam, scientifically.”

He said energy “brings hundreds of thousands of jobs, well-paying jobs that can’t be off-shored.”

He also said farming is important — and getting more costly.

“Fertilizer has tripled in price,” Oz said. “Herbicides are dramatically more expensive. And gasoline has doubled in price. It is not fair to farmers.”

Oz said U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, “has been a wonderful source,” someone “I talk to all the time.”

He also said it would be unfair to seek his endorsement, citing his rank in the Congress — which could be to become chairman of the House Agriculture Committee should Republicans regain control of that chamber of Congress.

“I want his mind more than his endorsement,” Oz said of Thompson, whose 15th District will continue to cover all of Armstrong County but will lose much of Indiana County because of reapportionment.

Staying in the 15th are the boroughs of Glen Campbell, Marion Center and Smicksburg and the townships of Banks, Canoe, East Mahoning, Grant, Montgomery, North Mahoning and West Mahoning, as well as a precinct in South Mahoning Township.

The reworked 15th District also still will Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union and Warren counties, and parts of Lycoming and Venango.

On the other hand, Oz does have the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Peters Township, whose 14th District would extend as far north as Smicksburg if he is re-elected.

As reapportioned on a map recently approved by the state Supreme Court, 27 Indiana County municipalities will be in that new 14th District, including Blairsville as well as Armagh, Cherry Tree, Clymer, Creekside, Ernest, Homer City, Indiana, Plumville, Saltsburg and Shelocta boroughs, and Armstrong, Blacklick, Brush Valley, Buffington, Burrell, Center, Cherryhill, Conemaugh, East Wheatfield, Green, Pine, Rayne, Washington, White, West Wheatfield and Young townships.

“Southwestern Pennsylvania has a rich history of energy production, so does Indiana County,” said Reschenthaler, a second-term congressman who was a former magisterial district judge and state senator in Pittsburgh’s South Hills suburbs.

In the latter role he came to know Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, at the time chief of staff to now-retired Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, and said they were “close, personal friends.”

He said there also is a focus on manufacturing and a pro-law-and-order stance.

“It is an amazing district in terms of the people,” Reschenthaler said. “They’re genuine and down to earth.”

He also said the idea of “talking to strangers” is something “we take for granted.”

And he said he and Thompson “work together in Congress,” meaning there would be a “continuity with representation” if both win their respective re-elections.

Oz called Reschenthaler, who was at Dean’s Diner collecting signatures on his election petitions, “a wonderful human being” and “a brave patriot.”

Another issue close to Oz’s heart is COVID-19, a pandemic that brought about “top-down, authoritarian overreach that did not make us safe — just like the Green New Deal.”

Until recently, Oz was host of a morning talk show that won Emmy awards, but he also is a heart surgeon and attending physician at New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center and an author of more than 350 original publications, as well as eight books that turned up on New York Times best seller lists.

His grasp of issues important in west-central Pennsylvania could be aided by his campaign manager Casey Contres, who has Cambria County roots, a 2011 degree in political science and journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a résumé that included nearly three years as communications director for Rep. Bill Shuster, former Republican congressman from a south-central district that included Indiana County.

Oz also talked about his roots in eastern Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and Wharton Business School and has degrees from both.

“I married my wife 36 years ago in the same house we live in now,” he said, in Montgomery County, across the Delaware River from a longtime residency in New Jersey.

He also said, should he not win the May 17 primary, “I will support whomever the public thinks is the best candidate” among the Republicans running for Toomey’s seat.

Source: https://www.indianagazette.com/news/local/dr-oz-brings-senate-campaign-to-blairsville/article_3adaa178-e037-59cb-b68e-a66733580e02.html

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