Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz holds a press conference with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 6, 2022. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)
By October 10, 2022 Updated: October 10, 2022. Media: The Epoch Times.
A Philadelphia Democrat has decided to endorse Republican Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race, citing concerns over public safety and crime in his city.
Tom Knox, who once served as deputy mayor under Democrat Ed Rendell, said in a statement obtained by Townhall on Oct. 7 that he is a “lifelong Democrat,” but he had to cross party lines and oppose current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for Senate.
“I have met with John Fetterman, and I personally like him,” Knox stated. “But I am sad to say, as a resident of Philadelphia, that our city has become increasingly dangerous, and John Fetterman’s policies on crime will make things much worse.”
Philadelphia, with 416 homicides so far in 2022, is on pace to exceed last year’s record of 562 murders.
Knox, who has previously tried to run for the mayor of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania, criticized Fetterman for what he sees as a soft-on-crime agenda.
“His push as Lieutenant Governor to release more dangerous criminals—after we have already seen a gruesome increase in violent crime—and promote heroin injection sites in our neighborhoods are radical ideas that would make our streets less safe,” Knox added.
Democratic Pennsylvania Senate nominee John Fetterman holds a rally with U.S. Congresswomen Madeleine Dean and Mary Gay Scanlon at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2022. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)
According to the Republican National Committee, Fetterman advocated for the release of one-third of Pennsylvania’s prisoners at least 11 times in 2020 and 2021.
“I love Philadelphia, and I am saddened by what is happening to it,” Knox continued. “I am encouraging Democrats who share my concerns with Fetterman’s long-standing policies to put party affiliation aside and support Dr. Oz for U.S. Senate.”
Knox added, “Dr. Oz is smart, hard working, and a man of integrity who will work tirelessly to make our streets and city safe once again.”
Oz welcomed Knox’s endorsement, telling Townhall in a statement that Pennsylvanians should “come together now more than ever, regardless of party, as we face one of the highest homicide rates ever recorded in Philadelphia and our commonwealth suffers from one of the largest increases in violent crime rates and the fourth highest number of deaths from fentanyl in the country.”
The Fetterman camp recently released an ad in which Sean Kilkenny, the Montgomery County sheriff, pushed back against Republicans’ crime-focused criticism of the Democrat candidate.
“I’m sick of Oz talking about John Fetterman and crime, Kilkenny said. “Here’s the truth. John gave a second chance to those who deserved it. Nonviolent offenders, marijuana users. He voted with law enforcement experts nearly 90 percent of the time.”
“Dr. Oz doesn’t know a thing about crime,” Kilkenny continued. “He only knows how to help himself.”
Recently, Oz has been endorsed by two police unions. On Sept. 28, the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association described Oz as a “strong champion for law enforcement officers and their families in Pennsylvania,” in its endorsement statement (pdf).
“At a time when the law enforcement community is facing its greatest challenges, we need people who will advocate for the tools and resources that will keep the men and women of the Pennsylvania State Police safe as they serve our commonwealth,” the association added.
A day earlier, the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 threw its support behind Oz.
“Dr. Oz’s history as a police surgeon and his demonstrated outreach to listen to police is a stark contrast to his opponent, who has a long history of anti-police rhetoric and advocacy for policies that make communities less safe,” said John McNesby, the group’s president, during a press conference.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz greets supporters after the primary race resulted in an automatic recount owing to close results, in Newtown, Pa., on May 17, 2022. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
With just weeks to go before the Nov. 8 elections, Oz has cut Fetterman’s once massive polling lead. According to the RealClearPolitics poll average, Fetterman had an 8.7 percent lead in August, but that lead has now shrunk to 3.7 percent points.
Fetterman’s support stood at 46 percent, leading Oz by 6.4 percentage points, according to a recent Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll (pdf), which was conducted for four days ending on Sept. 30.
The poll also found that 43.8 percent said the economy was their top concern, followed by abortion rights at 25.2 percent, and gun control at 10.2 percent.
“Mehmet Oz is finally solidifying Republicans after a very divided Republican primary in the spring,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in a statement accompanying the poll. “Now, the October battleground for both candidates will be that narrow swath of independents who could swing the Pennsylvania election, which has important implications for the balance of power in the US Senate.”
The Cook Political Report changed its rating for the Pennsylvania Senate race from “lean Democrat” to “toss-up” on Oct. 4.
In recent days, Oz and Fetterman both took to Twitter to rally their supporters.
If elected, Fetterman said he will vote to codify Roe v. Wade, expand access to health care and lower the cost of prescription drugs, and raise the minimum wage.
“It’s time for change, Pennsylvania,” Oz wrote. “We can’t afford more of the same far-left radical policies that have hurt our businesses, families, and communities.”