After Trashing Dr. Oz as Carpetbagger, Media Shrug at DC Fundraiser Taking California Senate Seat

(Araya Doheny/Getty Images for EMILYs List)
October 3, 2023

During Dr. Mehmet Oz's 2022 Senate campaign in Pennsylvania, the Republican nominee's supposed lack of local roots was a headline-making scandal. But according to the mainstream media, it's totally fine that Laphonza Butler, a Democratic fundraiser from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., was appointed over the weekend to fill Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat in California.

Now: Butler lives and is registered to vote in Maryland, where she serves as the president of Emily's List, a pro-abortion fundraising powerhouse. She was born and raised in Mississippi and went to college in the state. But in addition to Butler's identity—black, gay, and female—the media have emphasized Butler's decade-long stint in Los Angeles, during which she led a union and then worked as a senior adviser on Vice President Kamala Harris's failed presidential campaign.

Politico: "Butler, who is based in Washington and maintains close ties with Los Angeles ..."

New York Times: "Ms. Butler, 44, has been a fixture in California politics for nearly 15 years as a former leader of the state’s largest labor union and an adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris."

NBC News: "Butler's professional career has been rooted in California, where she led SEIU Local 2015, the largest union in the state."

Associated Press: "Butler has never held elected office but has a long track record in California politics."

USA Today: "A spokesman said [Butler] owns a home in View Park, California and a place in LA where she will reside. She has already re-registered to vote in the state."

Then: Oz earned two advanced degrees at the the University of Pennsylvania and two children of his children were born in the state. In 2020, he moved to Pennsylvania and registered to vote there. Still, the media all but cheered his Democratic opponent, now-senator John Fetterman (D., Pa.)'s mockery of him as a carpetbagger.

New York Times: "The Campaign to Troll Dr. Oz for Living in New Jersey":

For much of the summer, Fetterman’s campaign sustained a viral media narrative that depicted Oz not just as a wealthy, out-of-touch celebrity with a tenuous connection to Pennsylvania, but as something that is, both regionally and nationwide, way more loathed: a guy from New Jersey.

ABC News: "Where Dr. Oz Lives Becomes a Campaign Issue in Pennsylvania Senate Race":

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, has faced the usual amount of attacks from his opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman—but a lot of it has been unusually focused on just one topic: where Oz has been living.

Washington Post: "First Snooki, Now Little Steven: Fetterman Trolls Oz With NJ Celebrities":

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, is using some of New Jersey’s most popular names to troll his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz, who is better known as a Garden State resident.

The attacks portraying Oz as an outsider, which the media worked overtime to promote, may have cost him the election, according to CBS News:

John Fetterman's attack ads against Dr. Mehmet Oz painting the Republican candidate as an outsider from New Jersey may have succeeded, experts say. During the campaign, Fetterman continuously attacked Oz's ties to New Jersey both on social media and in TV ads.

Flash forward: Republican David McCormick, who late last month launched a challenge against Pennsylvania's other incumbent senator, Democrat Bob Casey, has already faced similar media scrutiny of his local bona fides.

Associated Press: "David McCormick Is Gearing Up for a Senate Run in Pennsylvania. But He Lives in Connecticut.":

While McCormick does own a home in Pittsburgh, a review of public records, real estate listings and footage from recent interviews indicates he still lives on Connecticut’s "Gold Coast," one of the densest concentrations of wealth in America. The former hedge fund CEO rents a $16 million mansion in Westport that features a 1,500-bottle wine cellar, an elevator, and a "private waterfront resort" overlooking Long Island Sound.

Lower down in the report, the AP acknowledged that McCormick grew up in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, where his father was a local college president. He left the state to attend West Point and then to serve as an officer in the Gulf War:

"Dave has called Pennsylvania home for 30 years and served our country outside of Pennsylvania for an additional 13," [a McCormick spokeswoman] said. "It’s the place he mailed letters back to when he served in Iraq and the place where three of his daughters were born."

She said, "While he maintains a residence in Connecticut as his daughters finish high school, Dave’s home is in Pittsburgh and for the last 10 years he has owned a working farm in his hometown of Bloomsburg, which has been in the family for decades."