Oprah Winfrey has thrown her support behind Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman instead of her former daytime TV colleague Mehmet Oz — a mainstream personality whom she helped make famous — in Pennsylvania’s super-tight Senate race.
“At the beginning of the midterm campaigns, I said it was up to citizens to vote for who would represent them. If I lived in Pennsylvania, I would have already cast my vote for John Fetterman, for many reasons,” Winfrey said Thursday during “A Virtual Voting Conversation,” an online forum she hosted with community leaders ahead of next week’s midterm elections.
The 68-year-old Emmy winner urged voters to consider “dynamic candidates who are working to represent the values that so many of us hold dear,” such as “inclusion, compassion and community.”
According to Politico, which cited Winfrey’s unique clout among women, Black people and many other Americans, Fetterman’s team had been working on the Winfrey endorsement for months because they “knew how powerful a nod from” her would be.
“She is a leader on so many issues — fighting for our democracy, passing common-sense gun reform, and ensuring racial justice,” Fetterman said in response to the endorsement.
Fetterman supports the reproductive rights that were enshrined in Roe vs. Wade and raising the minimum wage. He also supports fracking, a politically fraught subject in Pennsylvania.
The candidate, who suffered a stroke earlier this year that left him with difficulties speaking, appeared to underperform in his debate with Oz last week. But a line from Oz about abortion in which he said it “should be between women, doctors and local political leaders” appeared to undermine the TV doctor’s victory.
In December, Oz asked Winfrey to stay away from the Pennsylvania senate race because he didn’t want his friend to “get hurt.” In a statement to Politico, a spokesperson for the candidate said Thursday that Oz “loves Oprah and respects the fact that they have different politics.”
Winfrey on Thursday also shared a number of other endorsements in state gubernatorial elections and key races that will determine which political party controls the U.S. Senate.
“That is not the only race that matters,” Winfrey said. “If I was in North Carolina … sister [Cheri] Beasley there, and if I was in Florida, I’d be supporting Val Demings. If I was in Wisconsin, it would be Mandela Barnes, in Nevada it would be Catherine Cortez Masto. And in Texas, Beto O’Rourke, and Raphael Warnock and the incredible Stacey Abrams, of course, in Georgia.
“So there are clear choices out there and some dynamic candidates who are working to represent the values — this is what we’re talking about — the values that we hold dear, the values of inclusion, the values of compassion and community that so many of us share,” she continued.
Oz, best known as TV personality Dr. Oz, made a name for himself as a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in the early 2000s. The celebrity doctor went on to host his own talk series, “The Dr. Oz Show,” which ran in syndication from 2009 until last January, ending shortly after he announced his political ambitions late last year.
“The Dr. Oz Show” was promptly pulled from several media markets — specifically those that reach Pennsylvania TV households — after the heart surgeon announced his intention to run for the state’s open Senate seat as a Republican, in hopes of replacing retiring Sen. Pat Toomey.