In Ohio, author JD Vance had been polling behind former state Treasurer Josh Mandel for much of the Republicans’ Senate primary.
Then he netted an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and he won the primary by eight points.
Meanwhile the television host Dr. Mehmet Oz, another Trump endorsement, has been running for Senate in Pennsylvania… but he may need more than Trump’s endorsement in order to win the Republican primary, due to the release of some shocking photos.
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Oz remains both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of Turkey. He has dismissed concerns about national security, but a new photo shows him voting in Turkey’s 2018 election.
Campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick confirmed the authenticity of the photo to ABC News on Wednesday. She said that Oz voted for the candidate trying to unseat controversial President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Take a look —
🚨🚨🚨 What a bombshell…
Mehmet Oz voted in Turkey's 2018 election, then lied and said he has "never been politically involved in Turkey in any capacity."
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) May 4, 2022
Previously, Oz had denied being “politically involved” in Turkey.
“I hadn’t even really gotten engaged in any of this until I decided to run for the Senate, and I’d never been politically involved in Turkey in any capacity,” Oz told a columnist for The Washington Post in February. “I didn’t even donate money to these organizations.”
The campaign spokesperson has denied that voting amounts to “political involvement.”
“Voting in an election is far different from being actively engaged in the political work of the Turkish government, which Dr. Oz has never been involved with,” she told ABC News. “There is no security issue whatsoever.”
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However, some experts have disputed this characterization.
“The decision to vote in a foreign country’s election is problematic from a security clearance perspective,” John V. Berry, a former lawyer with experience in security clearances, told ABC News.
Oz has also active outside Turkey’s polling stations.
He served in the Turkish military for about two months in the 1980s, allegedly to retain his citizenship. He also owns more than $100,000 in real estate there, according to disclosure forms reviewed by ABC News.
He has argued that his Turkish citizenship enables him to care for his aging mother in Turkey.
“Any single one of those would be enough to torpedo a [security] clearance,” Kel McClanahan, executive director for National Security Counselors, told ABC News. “Taken together, I would not put good odds on that person getting a clearance anywhere.”
Under Erdogan, Turkey has curbed freedom of speech. In 2014 Erdogan signed a law giving the state more leeway to block certain websites, according to Reuters, and the administration temporarily blocked Twitter and WhatsApp two years later. So, Oz may risk financial harm for criticizing the Turkish administration.
Oz’s defenders have characterized some of these concerns as xenophobic.
“It is frankly un-American to suggest that first- and second-generation Americans are unworthy or suspect to work as a U.S. official,” Richard Grenell, Trump’s former director of national intelligence, told ABC News. “They’ve seen fascism and totalitarianism and are actually more clear-eyed about what is at stake.”
Plus, Oz has committed to renouncing his Turkish citizenship if elected, according to ABC News.
In any case, Oz faces a rockier path to Senate than Vance did, despite Trump’s endorsement.
The Horn editorial team