Oz, McCormick wage proxy fight in Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary, as Barnette closes on leaders

Last week, Mike Pompeo openly criticized Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz's ties to the Turkish government.

Updated: May 10, 2022 - 12:01am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The hotly-contested GOP Pennsylvania Senate primary is now also a proxy battle between two former Trump administration Cabinet members.

Last week, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went so far as to stage a briefing to criticize Trump-backed Dr. Mehmet Oz's ties to Turkey.

Pompeo, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, criticized Oz's participation in Turkish elections, while failing to vote in U.S. elections, and said that Oz's actions raise "a lot of judgments about his priorit(ies)." 

During the briefing, Pompeo called candidate and former hedge funder David McCormick a "patriot" ahead of the May 17 primary.

This week, former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell chimed in on behalf of Oz, calling Pompeo's remarks "unAmerican."

Grenell tweeted Monday: "It's frankly unAmerican to suggest that 1st and 2nd generation Americans are unworthy or suspect to work as U.S. officials. ... Many have seen fascism and totalitarianism up close. They are the canaries in the coal mine warning Americans that socialism is dangerous."

Grenell's message was posted alongside a screenshot advertising the Pompeo briefing regarding "significant national security concerns" over Oz's candidacy. 

As the candidates enter the final week before the primary, the Real Clear Politics polling average shows Oz with a 2.5-point lead over McCormick and third-place candidate Kathy Barnette surging to within two points of McCormick. 

Oz has said he will renounce his dual Turkish citizenship if elected. He maintained it to this point, he says, to care for his ailing mother. "After several weeks of discussion with my family, I'm committing that before I am sworn as the next U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania I will be only a U.S. citizen," said the candidate.

The Oz campaign, last week, called Pompeo's comments "pathetic and xenophobic."