Dr. Oz’s Fundraising Emails Spell Panic in Pennsylvania

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast
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If Pennsylvania senatorial hopeful and former TV doctor Mehmet Oz wants his supporters to know one thing, it’s that he’s a bad fundraiser who has always been losing to his opponent.

At least, that’s the overwhelming message in the more than 100 fundraising texts and emails the Oz campaign has delivered just in the last month.

The Oz campaign has sent 23 fundraising emails since last Monday alone. Every one of them has bad news, saying directly or on a linked donations page that Oz is either missing fundraising goals, trailing Democratic opponent John Fetterman in dollars raised, or losing in the polls.

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An email sent Monday—titled, “It would be humiliating”—says that “with just hours until my Daily Deadline, Democrats are STILL MASSIVELY outraising Republicans,” and “Right now, Democrats are FLATTENING Republicans in Senate races across the country.”

“I’m running out of time,” it concluded.

The day before, Oz gave supporters what he framed as insider information from “an emergency finance meeting.”

“[T]hey told me more bad news,” he said, adding that without “a major fundraising push TODAY, we will have to make some serious changes to the campaign,” including cutting ads.

“Yeah… this is bad. This could literally cost us the win so close to the election,” the email said.

All but three of the emails include a graphic at the bottom, headlined “DR. OZ IS BEHIND,” with poll results showing him trailing Fetterman 43.5 to 48.4. But an email Wednesday suggested optimism. Titled, “Pennsylvania is on fire,” Oz declared the race “officially NECK AND NECK,” citing a poll showing him down to Fetterman 45.9 to 47.7.

(The donations landing page simultaneously declares the contest neck and neck, while including a bonus donation option with the copy, “ALERT! DR. OZ IS RUNNING BEHIND.”)

A few hours later, Oz sent another email reverting back to the earlier 43.5 to 48.4 poll.

That data appears to reference a Trafalgar Group survey from late August. But the numbers are a bit outdated—the firm released a poll last week showing a 2-point gap. (A Monmouth University poll the same week showed Fetterman up 49 to 39.)

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Text messages from Oz have told the same story for months—even during the primary race.

Fundraising texts from the primary have said that Oz missed fundraising goals for February, March, and April. After the primary, texts have claimed the Oz campaign has come up short for deadlines in May, mid-July, July—somehow with only “$4,328” to go on July 26—and August.

In a message last Tuesday, Oz complained he’s been missing his goals “over and over again.”

“We missed our August goal, and now we keep missing our weekly fundraising goals,” the text said.

Even Oz’s friends want you to know he’s losing. GOP surrogates including fellow senatorial candidate Herschel Walker, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, Donald Trump Jr., and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and John Kennedy (R-LA) have all been forthright bearers of bad news.

“Dr. Oz is down in the polls,” said a recent email from Haley. On Friday, Walker wrote, “Let me be blunt: Dr. Oz is down in the polls in his Senate race, and he’s even further behind in fundraising.”

While this may be a gimmick, it’s also grounded in a harsh reality. And it’s not just about Oz. GOP candidates vying for the Senate have been outraised by their Democratic counterparts in a number of races critical to who will control the Senate heading into 2024—Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.

The campaign arm for Senate Republicans has borne the brunt of the criticism, though the group points the finger back at the candidates, arguing their poor performance had upended the master plan, as Pay Dirt reported last month.

That group—the National Senatorial Republican Committee—had begun sounding “alarm bells” about Oz’s polls and fundraising in late July, Politico reported.

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And even Oz has recently appeared to nod to the wider trend. A Sept. 6 fundraising email reads, “It’s embarrassing to admit, but I need to be honest with you—we are being MASSIVELY OUTRAISED,” with a graphic of the celebrity heart surgeon flanked by two other GOP candidates also trailing in fundraising—Georgia’s Herschel Walker and Ohio hopeful J.D. Vance.

As for Oz’s current claims about missing his goals, it’s tough to know where he stands for sure. The most recently available Federal Election Commission data only accounts for finances through the end of June. But those numbers were bleak.

By June 30, Oz had raised about $18.9 million, but most of that came from his personal funds. Only $4 million came from people not named Dr. Oz. He had also spent nearly all of it, and held just $1.1 million in the bank.

Fetterman, by contrast, had raised around $26 million, and sat on a $5.5 million stash.

While Oz may be reckoning with his own personal fundraising woes, the concern echoes among GOP Senate candidates more broadly.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the NRSC chair, has taken to the airwaves in recent weeks to defend his spending strategy. Earlier this month, The New York Times dug into what went wrong, as the group found itself shelling out 95 percent of its record-breaking fundraising $181.5 million haul by the end of July, ending the month with less than $23.2 million in the tank.

On Tuesday, the group filed a new report. It’s down to $16 million—about a third its Democratic counterpart’s $45.8 million.

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